ST. GEORGE – Mario Antoine Lucero, 33, standing with attorneys Aric Cramer and Edward Flint before 5th District Judge G. Michael Westfall, Wednesday morning, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder related to the death of 31-year-old Jeremy Shawn Olsen.
The plea appeared to surprise the judge somewhat as quizzical looks accompanied questions aimed at determining if Lucero fully understood what he just pleaded to. Throughout the questioning, Lucero repeatedly nodded in the affirmative or shook his head as needed to let Westfall know he was aware of what the plea entailed.
Little comment was offered by the prosecution or the defense, and Lucero chose to remain silent when asked if he would like to speak.
Lucero, through his lawyers, asked to be sentenced the same day, and was subsequently sentenced to 15 years-to-life in prison by Westfall.
As a part of the plea deal, additional charges related to felony and misdemeanor counts of assault, criminal mischief and a separate case involving a felony assault on a fellow inmate were dropped.
Not many people beyond the attorneys involved in the case knew about the plea deal, which came as a surprise to members of Olsen’s family who attended the hearing.
“I honestly thought (Lucero would) prolong it as long as he could,” said Glen Worthen, Olsen’s father.
To friends and family, Olsen was often referred to by his middle name of Shawn.
Both Glen Worthen and his wife, Lisa Worthen, said that while the hurt left by their son’s death wasn’t over, they are glad the court process is.
“It ends the torture of having to come back (to the court),” Lisa Worthen said.
Olsen died on Feb. 16, 2013, two days after sustaining blunt force trauma to his head during the alleged fight with Lucero at the home of Deseri Haley, Lucero’s sister. There had been a family gathering that evening where alcohol was consumed, Haley said, during a preliminary hearing on Sept. 18.
For reasons not fully explained in the courtroom, Lucero and his mother got into an argument and a fight ensued. Haley responded to the commotion and said she found her mother on the ground at Lucero’s feet. She then said she asked her brother, “What the hell are you doing?”
Haley said Lucero started hitting her in the face. Before passing out, Haley said, she saw Olsen trying to hold Lucero back. When she regained consciousness, Haley found Olsen on a couch with his head slumped to the side. There was blood over everything, she said.
Due to his injuries, Olsen was flown to University Medical Center in Las Vegas where he eventually died.
Lucero fled the scene and was eventually picked up by police in Los Angeles on a warrant.
St. George Police Detective Jordan Minnick went to California to retrieve Lucero for extradition. Minnick testified during the preliminary hearing that Lucero told him he didn’t remember all of the details of the incident, or how much alcohol he may have consumed that evening. However, Lucero told the detective, he hadn’t had a drink in a long time, and that, “It all went wrong with the first drink.”
Though mentioned a number of times during the preliminary hearing, alcohol was not officially named as a contributing factor to the incident by either the defense or the prosecution.
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- Victim in aggravated assault case dies, police still looking for suspect
- Police seek man involved in aggravated assault
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