Trial begins for man accused of killing former employee


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UTAH COUNTY -- Two years ago a body turned up in the Nevada desert. Now, a jury in Utah County has to decide how it got there.

The discovery of the body solved the missing person case of a Lehi man. A jury is finally hearing the evidence in the case against the man charged with his death.


We were not going to be cavalier in our approach to the case. We are going to present what evidence we have and make the arguments we can best make to obtain a conviction.

–Chad Grunander, prosecutor


When a body was discovered wrapped in garbage bags in a remote area of Nevada near Wendover, police had no idea who it was. Coincidentally, when news broke of the body's discovery, American Fork police were questioning a man about the disappearance of one of his employees.

That's when police say Ramon Somoza confessed to killing Jesus Landin at the Apollo Dance Hall in American Fork.

"This will be a rather lengthy trial," said prosecutor Chad Grunander. "There are several witnesses and it's also an important case -- we've alleged murder and obstruction of justice and desecration of a human body."

Somoza is accused of killing Landin in what is believed to have been a dispute over money that Landin believed Somoza owed him. Somoza's defense has acknowledged dumping the body was the wrong decision, but still calls the shooting a case of self-defense.

Prosecutors say they will present evidence to dispute that claim.

"We were not going to be cavalier in our approach to the case," said Grunander. "We are going to present what evidence we have and make the arguments we can best make to obtain a conviction."

Jesus Landin was from Mexico and prosecutors say he was working in Utah to support his family. No one in Landin's family is attending the trial, but prosecutors are keeping his widow and family updated on the progress of the case.

"We will do our best to represent him and his interest and that of his family's," said Grunander.

Prosecutors still have several more witnesses to call before they rest their case. An expert witness for the defense won't be available until the end of the month, so it's possible there won't be a verdict until early September.

Email:spenrod@ksl.com

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