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Man charged in University of Utah student’s killing wants accuser questioned in separate case

Attorneys for Ayoola Ajayi say the woman’s statements are inconsistent, prosecutors dispute that

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Ayoola Adisa Ajayi, 31, was arrested on Friday, June 28, 2019, and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, desecration of a human body and obstruction of justice in connection with the disappearance of University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck.

Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — One day last year, a woman fired up Mutual, the dating app geared at single Latter-day Saints, and came across a bachelor named AJ.

They began chatting and she agreed to have dinner with him at his home in Salt Lake City on March 10. After the meal, they started watching a movie on TV and he began kissing her “intensely” as she tried to scoot away from him on the couch, she recalled in a written statement that was admitted in 3rd District Court Thursday. He then sexually assaulted her as he pinned her arms down, the document says.

“I was unable to move, and felt paralyzed, trapped and caged,” it reads.

The written testimony is part of the sexual assault case against Ayoola Adisa Ajayi, the 31-year-old man who is separately accused of murdering University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck and setting fire to her body.

Prosecutors said they learned about the assault allegation, which predates Lueck’s death by more than a year, as they gathered evidence in the homicide. Ajayi has not yet entered pleas in either case.

Third District Judge Vernice Trease accepted the two-page statement over the objection of Ajayi’s defense attorney Neal Hamilton, who said it was inconsistent with the woman’s initial statement to investigators.

Hamilton wants a chance to question the woman, who prosecutors said could not attend Thursday’s preliminary hearing. The defense has been trying to subpoena her and left a legal summons on her doorstep Sept. 13, Hamilton said.

“We would like her here,” Hamilton said. “Our position is this is not reliable.”

While she originally told police she had blocked Ajayi’s number, Hamilton said, the woman spoke with investigators again after forensic analysis of her phone showed they continued to exchange messages.

Prosecutor Marc Mathis said the only point of a subpoena is to attack the woman’s credibility, a move he called inappropriate at the early stage of the case. He disputed the defense’s characterization of the facts and timeline, saying the woman knows any false statement could lead to criminal charges.

Trease said she would allow Ajayi’s attorneys more time to work on a subpoena, but that doesn’t mean she’ll require the woman to testify. The judge also did not immediately rule Thursday whether the statement provides evidence for the case to go to trial.

Ajayi, originally from Nigeria but living in Salt Lake City at the time of his arrest, has been jailed for nearly three months on charges including aggravated murder, a capital offense.

In a third pending criminal case, Ajayi is charged with 19 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, after police said they found child pornography on devices seized from his home.

He waived his right to a speedy trial Thursday after his attorneys acknowledged the state is waiting to receive crucial evidence in all three cases against him. Prosecutors declined to give any details on the evidence; so did Hamilton.

Appearing in a yellow jail uniform and sporting a beard, Ajayi spoke very little during the hearing, saying “yes, your honor,” when the judge asked if he wanted to give up his right to a quicker trial schedule.

The hearing is scheduled to continue Nov. 27, when Ajayi will have a chance to testify in his own defense. He is charged with aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony; and three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.

Investigators have also looked into the role of dating apps during the investigation into Lueck’s death. Police say she met Ajayi early on the morning of June 17 at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake and the two went to Ajayi’s house.

An autopsy found Lueck died from blunt force trauma to the left side of her skull. After she was killed, prosecutors say Ajayi set fire to her body. Her charred remains were found by police in a shallow grave under a grove of trees in Logan Canyon on July 3.