Attorneys talk evidence, questioning during hearing for 2017 Ogden murder

Thursday , July 12, 2018 - 12:36 PM

OGDEN — Evidence in the case of a 19-year-old Ogden man accused of murder was the focus of a hearing Wednesday afternoon in Ogden.

Thomas Lovato, 19, was present in court while his attorneys and prosecutors questioned Ogden police officers to clarify issues raised by the defense. The main focus of the hearing was to analyze the video of Lovato — who was arrested in January 2017 in connection with the fatal shooting of Ernesto Martinez, a 32-year-old man from Ogden — being questioned by police.

Lovato is charged with one count of murder, a first-degree felony; two counts of attempted murder, first-degree felonies; one count of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony; and reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor.

After he was read his Miranda rights, Lovato told Detective Reed Mackley that he was “willing to talk to a limited extent.” The two went back and forth as Mackley continued to ask if Lovato was invoking his right to counsel. Lovato said he was willing to cooperate with police but wanted to protect himself from self-incrimination.

Mackley was questioned by both the defense and prosecutors during the hearing about his rationale during the interview. 

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A probable cause statement for Lovato’s arrest says that in the interview he admitted to shooting Martinez multiple times, claiming he acted in self-defense. Police noted in the statement that based on evidence recovered from the scene of the shooting, a self-defense claim was “unlikely.” 

Ogden Police responded to the shooting at 12:44 a.m. Jan. 22, 2017, at an SNS Quick Stop convenience store near 100 Patterson St., the department said in a news release.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found Martinez dead in his vehicle, according to a probable cause statement. Two other people who were in the vehicle with Martinez narrowly avoided getting hit by rounds fired at the car, the statement says.

Ogden Police Sgt. Travis Kearl was one of the officers who arrested Lovato a day after the shooting. He took the stand Wednesday to talk about evidence collected from social media. 

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Kearl said investigators found a Facebook account with the name Thomas Lovato after they received a number of tips. The clothing in one of the photos matched a jacket the alleged shooter was wearing in a surveillance video from the gas station. 

Shortly after, the name on the account was changed to “Bob Jenkins,” Kearl told the courtroom. 

Kearl described messages sent from the Facebook account that showed the person behind it wanting to strangle homeless people, smoking methamphetamine and wanting to seek revenge on someone who had robbed him. 

Prosecutors and defense attorneys did not have time to cover all the issues in question, and the hearing came to a close with unresolved matters. Judge Noel Hyde continued the evidence hearing until Aug. 1 and scheduled additional dates in case more time was needed to resolve the evidence matters. 

Lovato is being held without bail at the Weber County Jail.

Contact reporter Jacob Scholl at jscholl@standard.net or follow him on Twitter @Jacob_Scholl.

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