OGDEN — One of two friends charged in the shooting death of a man at a transient camp last year has been found guilty of murder.
A jury in Ogden's 2nd District court returned the verdict against Dalton James Aiken, 28, after about three hours of deliberation Wednesday, court records show.
After his arrest in August, Aiken told police he and his friend Cory Michael Fitzwater, 35, were in the 21st Street pond area "to find and harass homeless people."
The body of Brian Racine, 28, was discovered Aug. 16 in Ogden, where investigators found him near 500 West and 21st Street with a gunshot wound to the head.
Both Aiken, 28, and Fitzwater were charged with murder, a first-degree felony, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a third-degree felony.
During the two-day trial for Aiken this week, prosecutors argued he told police after his arrest that homeless people are "a problem" and don't contribute to society, the Standard-Examiner reported. But Aiken testified that Fitzwater walked up to a man lying on the ground and the two spoke to each other before the man sat up and a cat ran away, which distracted Aiken, who then heard a gunshot and ran.
Aiken in a police interview said the gun was his and he had seen Fitzwater use it to shoot Racine in the head, according to charging documents. Fitzwater, for his part, told police he had been in the area at the time of the shooting but didn't see anyone or hear a gunshot.
On Aug. 16, police pulled over a car on 17th Street about 3 a.m and found Aiken, Fitzwater and a .45 caliber gun inside, according to charges. An hour later, officers found Racine deceased, with a .45-caliber bullet nearby, prosecutors say.
Forensic investigators found the casing was fired from the gun Aiken and Fitzwater had with them when they were arrested.
Racine's mother testified that her son had mental illness and had moved from California to Utah as part of his plan to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She called police after she lost contact with her son, and they called her back to say he was dead.
Sentencing for Aiken is set for July 29. Fitzwater, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, is due in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.