Jury finds man guilty of murder for fatal hit-and-run in Cedar City parking lot
The eight-person jury deliberated for about 2½ hours on Wednesday before reaching its verdict after a four-day trial
A jury determined a Cedar City man, Jacob Wayne Schmidt, is guilty of murder for hitting a man he knew with a vehicle, ultimately causing his death in 2020.
The eight-person jury deliberated for about 2½ hours on Wednesday before reaching its verdict after a four-day trial.
Chad Dotson, Iron County attorney and lead prosecutor on the case, said he is grateful for the jurors, and after this verdict Schmidt "will be held to account for his brutal and violent actions."
"Jacob Schmidt killed a man in broad daylight over a petty argument and the sum of $400. This kind of senseless act of violence is not tolerated in our community. The loss of life is a tragedy and my heart goes out to the family and friends of the victim John Sineath," Dotson said.
Sineath, 37, was transported to the Cedar City Hospital after being hit by Schmidt's vehicle in the Home Depot Parking lot, 1518 S. Providence Center Drive, on Sept. 7, 2020, and later died from his injuries.
Schmidt's attorney, Clifford Gravett, said they are disappointed with the outcome and plan to file an appeal.
Police said Schmidt, 28, was driving a Dodge Stratus in the Home Depot parking lot that day. Witnesses saw the incident and took a photograph of the vehicle as he drove away, according to charging documents.
"Witnesses described the Dodge Stratus as driving toward the victim while a female witness was walking with him and nearly hitting them and then the Dodge Stratus turning around and then hitting and running over the victim as he was trying to run away," the documents said.
Some of those witnesses, including the woman who was walking with Sineath and a nearby taxi driver, testified during the jury trial.
The day after the crash, officers found the vehicle and noted damage to the front end and details that matched the photo. They obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and tracked down the most recent registered owner, who said he had sold it through Facebook to "Jackrabbit Jake." The photo on that profile matched the photo on a profile with the name Jake Schmidt.
Schmidt's employer also reached out saying Schmidt drove a car similar to the one identified in the incident, and Schmidt "had recently had some problems with (Sineath)" and was upset with Sineath, the charging documents said. The employer was able to help police locate Schmidt.
"Jacob said the victim had not come through on a deal, Jacob heard the victim was in the area of Walmart, and Jacob went there to confront the victim and was going to beat the victim up. Jacob told his employer the victim started to get smart so Jacob hit him with the car," the documents said.
Around that same time, officers also heard from Schmidt's father who said Schmidt told him about an argument with the victim and said he had been beaten up, and someone told him to take Sineath out, according to the charges. The dad understood from the conversation his son had run over Sineath, police said.
After Schmidt was arrested, he denied any involvement in the incident and said he did not have a Dodge Stratus, and he said he did not tell his father or employer about the incident. However, he had a key in his pocket that fit the ignition of the Dodge Stratus, police said.
Schmidt's sentencing is scheduled for July 18. The conviction comes with a minimum mandatory sentence of between 15 years and life in prison.