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Man will go to trial on firearms charges

Student at UVSC allegedly used false ID to buy weapon

Kidus Yohannes
Kidus Yohannes

PROVO — A man accused of purchasing firearms with false identification will go to trial in January on the charges against him.

Kidus Chane Yohannes, 20, an Ethiopian who was in the United States to attend Utah Valley State College, was arrested in June. Authorities had learned that he had purchased AK-47 variants at an Orem pawn shop using false identification numbers.

A variant is a gun that looks like an AK-47 but is not an automatic weapon.

Just before his arrest, Yohannes' roommates had expressed concerns to Orem police that Yohannes frequently talked about killing police officers and would spend hours watching execution-type videos on the Internet.

Yohannes is not charged with making threats, but police say his comments were disconcerting and called their arrest on the alleged gun-law violations a proactive move.

"This was a situation where everybody who dealt with him thought, 'We don't want to have another Virginia Tech situation,"' Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards told the Deseret Morning News after Yohannes' arrest.

Yohannes pleaded not guilty Thursday in 4th District Court and got a trial date in January.

During a preliminary hearing in September, the owner of VanWagenen's Finance in Orem said that Yohannes visited his store several times and rotated the numbers he used.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Donna Kelly told the judge she believed that showed Yohannes knew he was rotating an illegitimate 10-digit, hyphenated number with his correct eight-digit number preceded by a letter.

Defense attorney Richard Gale asked that the judge set a trial date on Jan. 2 and 4 for the third-degree felonies of providing false information for a background check prior to purchasing a hand gun.

He also asked that Yohannes' other charge of unlawful possession of an ATM card, another third-degree felony, which was filed separately, be placed on hold until the outcome of the trial.

Yohannes came to Utah under a State Department asylum program several years ago and had been admitted to UVSC in 2006 as a Utah resident, UVSC officials said.


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com