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Parole board orders killer to stay in prison until he dies

Thomas E. Noffsinger
Thomas E. Noffsinger
Utah Department of Corrections

MURRAY — The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole granted the family of Victor Aguilar their wish Wednesday when it ordered that Thomas Noffsinger serve out the rest of his life in prison for brutally murdering Aguilar in 1990.

Noffsinger, 42, pleaded guilty to capital murder in December 1990 for the March 3, 1990, killing of Victor Aguilar. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. Aguilar was stabbed five times in the back with a 12-inch-long knife, savagely stomped on and then had his throat slashed after accidentally coming upon Noffsinger while at work at Marie Callender's in downtown Salt Lake City.

Noffsinger, a former co-worker of Aguilar's, had entered the store with another man to steal money from a safe.

At a parole hearing earlier this month, Aguilar's family recounted the suffering they had endured both at the time of Aguilar's death and in the years since. Aguilar's daughter, Liz, who was 8 years old when her father was killed, told the Board of Pardons and Parole that her father's murder had caused her to have nightmares throughout her life. Even though overcoming that loss made her a stronger person, she said her family did not ever want to see Noffsinger released.

"I may be a better woman because of your actions, but I never want to walk the same streets with you," she told Noffsinger, also known as Thomas Trujillo. "You don't deserve the freedom you wish granted upon you."

The order was issued along with the board's rationale, which included the "brutality of crime" and the "extraordinary injury" to Aguilar's family.

Noffsinger, 42, also faced questions at the hearing from parole board member Clark Harms about his involvement in the May 1989 disappearance of 38-year-old Annette Hill, an unsolved case in which Noffsinger is considered a "person of interest" by police.

The Sandy woman's purse, which had blood on it, was discovered in an apartment Noffsinger had been evicted from shortly before Aguilar was killed, Harms said. Police also found a prescription bottle with Hill's name on it in Noffsinger's medicine chest at the apartment where he was living alone when he was arrested for the Aguilar murder.

Noffsinger said he didn't know Hill and had never even met her. He said he had stolen her purse from a car he had burglarized.

"That explanation, even though it's the same one you gave 20 years ago, seems incredulous to me," Harms said.

Hill's nephew, Paul McCurdy, told the Deseret News Wednesday that he hoped Noffsinger would provide the family with some closure about what happened to Hill, but Noffsinger never did. McCurdy said he was not convinced that Noffsinger's nearly 20 years in prison has changed him, as Noffsinger had claimed it has. "He's still very cold-hearted," McCurdy said. "This man makes Charles Manson look like a bunny rabbit. He's not a changed man."

McCurdy said Noffsinger all but expected to be released from prison after the hearing, but he is "relieved" that was not the case.

"I am extremely proud of the Aguilar family's courage, and there's no words for how grateful I am to the board for making this extremely difficult decision, and I'm relieved for the people of Salt Lake County," he said.

e-mail: emorgan@desnews.com