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Case dropped against man accused in 1986 murder

(Rick Egan/Pool)


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SALT LAKE CITY — The case against a man charged in connection with a cold case killing in Salt Lake City has been dropped.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office on Thursday filed a motion to dismiss the case against Thomas "Peanut" Pennington, 49.

According to the motion, "(The state) moves this court for an order dismissing without prejudice the above-entitled matter in the interests of justice and for the reason that the defendant has provided the state with potential alibi evidence. The state needs a significant period of time to further investigate the potential alibi evidence."

Pennington had been charged with second-degree murder, a first-degree felony, in the death of his ex-girlfriend Patricia "Smurf" Ramirez, 20, who was last seen alive on July 8, 1986. Her body was found July 13, 1986, on a hillside east of Memory Grove. A trial was scheduled to begin in June. Two times before, a trial had been scheduled and then canceled.

A witness told police he drove Ramirez, Pennington and two other men to a Salt Lake apartment. "The defendant and the two unknown males returned and placed something in the trunk of his car," charging documents state.

The man then drove to the hill where the body was later found. He opened the trunk for the men and "observed what he described as a package that was similar in size and the shape of a body, in particular a body the size of Ms. Ramirez," according to the charges.

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Another witness told police that Pennington informed him that Ramirez was dead on July 8, five days before her body was found.

"The defendant then told (the witness) that Patricia was gone and that she was found over a hill, or on a mountain, or something similar to that," the charges state.

Pennington had been incarcerated at the Tipton Correction Center in Missouri where his sentence was about to expire prior to being extradited to Utah. Once in Utah, Pennington's bail was originally set at $1 million. But he was released in March of 2014 because of issues surrounding evidence that had stalled the case.

In November, Pennington was charged in 3rd District Court with three counts of drug possession, two second-degree felonies and one third-degree felony; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor. A court hearing on the drug charges was scheduled for Friday.

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Pat Reavy

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