A Utah woman and her new boyfriend have been charged with murder for shooting her ex and stealing 50 pounds of marijuana from his van.
Sarah Elaine Lobato, 20, and Jayton Trevor Merrill, 18, were taken into custody on November 20 after police identified that the Cadillac parked in front of her house was seen in surveillance footage at the West Jordan murder site. Utah.
Lobato has reportedly admitted to police that she “set everything up” and organized to meet the victim, 39-year-old Raymond E. Ortiz of California, while trying to end a “bad” relationship with him.
Police say she also admitted she had previously tried to kill Ortiz with a poisonous plant ‘but was unable to do so because she was using the wrong plant,’ according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Sarah Elaine Lobato, 20, (left) and Jayton Trevor Merrill, 18 (right) are charged with aggravated murder and robbery for shooting her boyfriend, 39-year-old Raymond E. Ortiz.
Ortiz ‘body was found parked outside his van on a residential street in West Jordan after 2 p.m. on November 19, with two gunshot wounds to the head and one in the arm.
He had a ‘weak pulse and agonal breathing’ but attempts to save his life were unsuccessful.
Police said surveillance footage showed a silver Cadillac stopping next to Ortiz’s van shortly after arriving, and someone immediately shot into the vehicle three times.
The car then stopped in front of the van and two people got out. The van shot forward and hit the car.
The footage then showed a man, later identified by police as Merrill, firing two more shots into the side of Ortiz’s vehicle as Lobato dragged two large black bags from the van to the Cadillac.
Ortiz had parked his van, pictured above, on a quiet residential street to meet Lobato
Ortiz was found on the scene with two gunshot wounds to the head and one to the arm
They drove off, but the van hit the back of the car again, causing more damage.
Police began a search for the Cadillac and found it the next day in Lobato’s driveway with the bumper covered in tarpaulin.
“Anyone who has been investigating for quite some time quickly learns that the harder you work, the luckier you get,” said Travis Rees, West Jordan’s deputy police chief. Fox 13 of the investigation to quickly locate the car.
“Good information from some neighborhood video cameras that provided us with at least a partial description of the suspected vehicle.
“That led to more tips and we were able to locate the suspected vehicle and ultimately identify the suspects.”
While officers were in the driveway of Lobato’s house, she and Merrill drove into a BMW which the police then searched.
Officers found a ledger and bag used for drug distribution, several gun magazines, ammunition and a rifle butt.
Lobato told police that “new friend” Merrill shot Ortiz, but that she orchestrated the whole thing and drove Merrill’s Cadillac to the spot in West Jordan after letting Ortiz meet her there.
She said she had previously tried to end her relationship with Ortiz, who she has been living with since March 2020, ‘multiple times’.
Police found the black bags she took out of the van containing 50 pounds of marijuana during a search of Lobato’s house.
Agents reportedly found 100 pounds of the drug at the property.
“I was like,”[Expletive] this one. I’m going to make this worth it, ”she reportedly said of stealing the marijuana.
Merrill has denied being involved in the shooting, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
He said he was home the night of the shooting, that he hadn’t driven the Cadillac in a year, and had no idea how he got into Lobato’s driveway.
Police were able to identify the suspects based on surveillance footage from a nearby house
However, police stated that both suspects made efforts to conceal evidence.
Deseret News reports that Ortiz had previously been to Utah and had a previous criminal history for drug distribution.
Both Lobato and Merrill are charged with murder and aggravated theft, both crimes of the first degree; and obstructing justice, a second-degree crime.
Merrill has also been charged with possession of a firearm by a disabled person, a third degree felony.
According to Fox, they could face capital costs as the murder was allegedly committed during a serious robbery.
They are being held without bail in Salt Lake County Bail.
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