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Man accused of killing friend pleads guilty to unrelated sexual assault

By Geoff Liesik | Posted - Jun 18th, 2013 @ 2:31pm


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VERNAL — A Fort Duchesne man accused of killing a friend in April has admitted to sexually assaulting a Vernal woman in an unrelated case.

Jesse Anthony Saenz, 23, pleaded guilty Tuesday in 8th District Court to aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony.

In exchange for Saenz's plea, prosecutors asked Judge Clark McClellan to dismiss charges of aggravated kidnapping, object rape, forcible sodomy and forcible sexual abuse, all first-degree felonies. Three misdemeanor charges were also dismissed.

Saenz admitted in court that he followed a woman off a shuttle bus on June 10, 2012, hit her several times, then pulled her into a field and sexually assaulted her. A man living in the area heard the attack and called police, who said they had to use a Taser to subdue Saenz.

Saenz was jailed, but his family posted $64,000 bail in March. McClellan ordered Saenz to wear an ankle monitor as a condition of his release.

But Uintah County sheriff's investigators say Saenz removed the ankle monitor on April 21, the same day they believe he shot and killed Elvis Zachary Olsen. The two men were friends who met while serving time in jail, detectives say.

A motive for the shooting remains unclear because Saenz has asserted his right to remain silent, Uintah County Sheriff's Sgt. Leonard Issacson said.

Saenz faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 13 in the aggravated sexual assault case. A pair of status hearings have been scheduled for July 2 in the murder case and in an unrelated forcible sodomy case.

Saenz may also face sanctions that day for making an obscene hand gesture as he left the courtroom Tuesday that was apparently directed at Olsen's parents and the Vernal woman he attacked.

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