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State v. Logue

Court of Appeals of Utah

August 16, 2018

State of Utah, Appellee,
Danny Leroy Logue, Appellant.

          Fourth District Court, Provo Department The Honorable Derek P. Pullan No. 111401543

          Herschel Bullen, Attorney for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Christopher D. Ballard, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Gregory K. Orme authored this Opinion, in which Judges Ryan M. Harris and Diana Hagen concurred.


          ORME, Judge.

         ¶1 Defendant Danny Leroy Logue appeals his convictions for aggravated murder, a noncapital first degree felony, see Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-202(3)(b) (LexisNexis 2017); possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a second degree felony, see id. § 76-10-503(2)(a); and obstruction of justice, a second degree felony, see id. § 76-8-306(3)(a). We affirm.[1]


         The Shooting

         ¶2 Early in the morning on May 16, 2011, a man (Victim) was discovered in the driveway of his home suffering from a gunshot wound to his head.[2] Victim had been lying in his driveway for more than four hours before his mother and sister found him. Victim was transported to a hospital and later died.

         ¶3 Two months prior to Victim's death, police officers executed a search warrant on a storage unit owned by Yuri Lara, a drug dealer who sold and transported drugs with Victim. Officers discovered drugs and drug paraphernalia in the storage unit, and Lara was arrested. Lara immediately suspected that Victim had shared information with police officers because, during the search, officers went directly to drug paraphernalia that Lara assumed only Victim knew about.

         ¶4 Soon after the search, Lara approached one of his customers (Customer) and asked Customer if he knew of anyone willing to "beat somebody up." Customer introduced Lara to Darrell Wayne Morris, who agreed to assault Victim in exchange for one ounce of methamphetamine from Lara, which at that time was valued at $1200. Lara gave Morris half of the methamphetamine upfront and showed Morris where Victim lived. Morris then solicited Logue's help, as both were members of the same gang.

         ¶5 On the day before Victim's death, Logue gave his girlfriend (Girlfriend) money to buy .38 caliber ammunition from Walmart. When Girlfriend returned from Walmart with the ammunition, she found Logue with Morris and a friend (Friend). All four of them spent the day together at Girlfriend's trailer home, and, around 2:00 a.m., Logue and Morris left, telling Girlfriend and Friend that they were going "to go beat somebody up." Friend noticed that Logue had a gun and suggested that he leave it. Logue replied that he needed it for protection.

         ¶6 Once Logue and Morris reached Victim's house, they found Victim sitting on the porch with his cell phone in hand. Upon seeing Morris and Logue, Victim stood up and tried to make a call. But Logue shot Victim before he could successfully dial. Lara, in the meantime, had been staying with Customer on the night of Victim's death. Several hours after the shooting, Lara learned of Victim's death and Customer recalled seeing Lara do a "little jig" while exclaiming, "[Victim's] dead." Customer and Lara parted ways, and Customer returned home that afternoon to find Morris and Friend looking to collect the remaining methamphetamine. Customer asked Morris if he had seen Victim and Morris replied, "[W]ell let's just say he's not going to testify." Morris left without the other half-ounce of methamphetamine, but Morris and Friend met Lara two days later and collected it. Morris and Friend then returned to Girlfriend's trailer. Morris and Logue went into one of the bedrooms for fifteen to twenty minutes, and when they emerged, Morris had less methamphetamine than he did before entering the bedroom.

         The Investigation

         ¶7 Officers questioned Lara once they suspected his involvement, and his alibi led them to Customer. Customer then pointed them towards Morris and Logue. There was very little physical evidence, however, to connect Logue to Victim's death because officers were unable to recover the weapon used to kill Victim. Although phone records showed that Morris's phone was used near Victim's house at the time of the shooting, and that, from May 14, 2011, to May 22, 2011, 126 calls were made between Lara's and Morris's phones, most of the State's evidence came from witnesses with knowledge of Logue's involvement in the shooting. For example, Girlfriend testified that Logue admitted to her that he shot Victim, and Friend testified that Morris told her it was Logue who shot Victim.

         ¶8 Declining to seek the death penalty, the State charged Logue with one count of aggravated murder, a noncapital first degree felony. See Utah Code Ann. ยง 76-5-202(3)(b) (LexisNexis 2017). Invoking five aggravating circumstances to support the elevated murder charge, the State asserted that Logue killed Victim: (1) "for pecuniary gain"; (2) "pursuant to an agreement or contract for remuneration or the promise of remuneration"; (3) to prevent him from testifying; (4) to prevent him from "providing evidence or participating in any legal proceedings or official investigation"; and (5) to retaliate against him "for ...

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