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Trial for man in boat that allegedly hit, killed woman continues

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Dec. 13, 2012 at 5:37 p.m.


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OGDEN — Both prosecutors and the defense rested their cases Thursday in the trial against the owner of the boat that allegedly hit and killed a biologist in Pineview Reservoir.

Skyler Shepherd, 22, is one of three men accused of hitting 49-year-old Esther Fujimoto with Shepherd's boat and leaving her to die on Aug. 21, 2011. The woman was swimming 200 to 300 feet offshore before the boat's propeller severed her legs. Shepherd was not driving the boat at the time.

The three-day wrongful death suit trial began Monday and was extended an extra day. Shepherd faces charges of obstruction of justice, reckless endangerment and failure to render aid, all misdemeanor charges.

Shepherd says he asked Fujimoto twice if she was hurt after she was struck by the boat but did not hear her cries for help. Shepherd's attorneys argued that with the stereo playing, he may not have been able to hear those pleas. And they separate Shepherd's actions from what those of the driver and other passenger.

"He was the only one that went back to her," said Glen Neeley, an attorney representing Shepherd.

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Attorneys say Shepherd feels horrible about the outcome.

"He and I both wish that things would have been different," Neeley said. "He wished he would have pushed the issue more. He felt like he was being scolded at by the woman and that was a serious mistake."

Either way, siblings say it hasn't been easy going on without their little sister.

Her older brother, Bryan Fujimoto, said his sister and her older sister Denise would swim together at Pineview Reservoir seven days a week over the past 15 years.

As pictures of her injuries were admitted into evidence, family members brought with them today their own pictures with which to remember her and the kind of person she was.

Defense attorneys also brought a state forensic scientist to the stand, who testified that she could not find evidence of Fujimoto's blood on the boat's propeller. She also said that it could have washed away in the lake.

Closing arguments, which were supposed to start Thursday, will start Friday morning and then the case goes to the jury.

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