May 26, 2021

Murder suspect asks for ‘equal treatment’ because another young Black Ogden man was granted bail | Courts

Murder suspect asks for 'equal treatment' because another young Black Ogden man was granted bail | Courts

OGDEN — Keshaun Puente asked a judge Wednesday for “equal treatment” — to be granted bail like another young, Black murder suspect recently received in Ogden.

Judge Jennifer Valencia had just denied his defense attorney’s latest request for bail and the hearing was breaking up when Puente asked to be heard.

Valencia and his attorney, Grant Morrison, advised him against making any potentially incriminating statements about his case. Puente then pressed the bail issue, asking to get an opportunity for bail as another local Black man, Brandon Parker, obtained in his case.

The cases have major differences, but similarities include that both suspects are Black, and all four suspects and victims were young males from the Ogden inner city.

Puente is accused of shooting Denero Lamar Snider, 23, four times on June 13, 2018. He is charged with murder and felony discharge of a firearm, first-degree felonies.

Parker was 17 when Caden Ferguson, 16, died of a single gunshot to the forehead on the morning of March 14, 2020, at Parker’s parents’ home.

The defenses are dramatically different. Puente’s attorneys argue he wasn’t even there. They said construction workers who were near the shooting failed to identify Puente in a police lineup, and they say there’s an alibi witness.

Parker’s defense is that the shooting of Ferguson was accidental. The victim was his best friend and Parker’s attorneys say a murder charge, especially against someone who was a juvenile at the time, is overreach.

Parker’s defense was able to convince a judge to set bail last year, but for $250,000 — an amount his attorney said is out of reach for an indigent defendant and his family.

But earlier this year, Black Lives Matter Utah raised $25,000 to bail out Parker, saying the shooting was an accident and the murder charge represented racism, an allegation prosecutors vehemently denied.

Valencia said she was not aware of the circumstances of Parker’s case, but regardless, she said her analysis of Puente’s detention status stands, that prosecutors have presented sufficient probable cause evidence that Puente committed the crime and that he is a risk to flee if released.

She noted that Puente fled Utah after Snider’s shooting and gave a false identity when Nevada police picked him up later.

Deputy Weber County Attorney Thomas Pedersen, arguing to keep Puente jailed without bail, said the man faces charges in three violent crimes: Snider’s shooting, the object rape of a woman in Ogden and an assault in Farmington.

Valencia also denied Morrison’s motion that sought dismissal of the murder case on the grounds that Puente’s speedy trial rights have been violated.

Morrison said Puente has been in jail for 28 months and argued his right to a speedy trial has been violated. Deputy Weber County Attorney Branden Miles said some of the delays were because of actions by the defense.

Valencia ruled that much of the delay has been due to the Utah Supreme Court’s COVID-19 protocols, which under the “red” classification have prohibited most live trials.

The judge also said she has made sure attorneys have had regular opportunities to gain spots on her calendar to raise any speedy trial matters.

“I am doing so in an attempt to make sure the parties know I am doing my best to get these cases to trial as soon as possible,” Valencia said. “I don’t see he has been specifically impaired by delays any different than any other defendant in this district and in the state.”

Puente told Valencia he wanted bail “because I would do anything to be with my kids.” But she responded, “I simply can’t make a finding in a murder case that you would not be a risk to the community” if released pending trial.

The judge set Puente’s murder trial for Oct. 12 and a separate trial in the object rape case for Aug. 23.

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