More than a decade after Sherry Black was found murdered at her own bookstore, her family is one step closer to having some justice.
Adam Durborow, 30, of Orem, pleaded guilty in 3rd District Court on Monday to aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, in Black's 2010 death.
Durborow is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 2. At that time, he could either be sentenced to a term of 25 years to life in the Utah State Prison, or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"With today's plea of guilty we are one step closer to bringing a measure of justice for Sherry Black and her family," Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said.
Gill acknowledged that it had been a convoluted path getting to Monday's guilty plea. But there is now some measure of justice through the drawn-out process for both the family of Black and the community. Black's family was present for Monday's change of plea hearing. Gill said no plea deals were made with Durborow.
On Nov. 30, 2010, Black, 64, the mother-in-law of former Larry H. Miller Group CEO Greg Miller, was found stabbed to death inside her bookstore, B&W Billiards and Books, 3466 S. 700 East, in South Salt Lake. For nearly a decade there were no suspects or persons of interest in the case.
For years, the only pieces of evidence that police shared with the public, hoping to generate tips, were an Armani Exchange men's belt found at the crime scene with a waist measurement of approximately 36-38 inches and a sticker on the back of the buckle with the number "323," and blood that was collected from the scene.
DNA testing determined the blood came from a male. That DNA was analyzed through a national criminal database. But no match was ever made, meaning that either the killer had not been arrested for committing another violent crime since Black's death, he had fled the country or he was dead.
In 2017, investigators put their evidence through the DNA phenotyping process using the Virginia-based company Parabon-Nanolabs. Phenotyping predicts a person's physical appearance and ancestry using genetic codes. Based on that information, researchers can predict skin color, hair color, eye color and facial structure using percentages.
Court records show that a woman believed to be Durborow's birth mother lived a mile away from Black's bookstore in 2010.
Unified police detective Ben Pender, an expert in cold cases, took over the investigation in 2018.
When Durborow was charged in October of 2020, it was announced at that time that investigators had trailed Durborow to a public place and secretly collected DNA. That DNA was later matched with evidence left at the crime scene. He was arrested a few weeks before he was charged with killing Black. What prompted police to begin following Durborow was still not known.
Also, a motive for the killing had still not been revealed. Gill said he will wait for the pre-sentencing report to come out and for Durborow to be sentenced before addressing the question about motive.