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Jury finds man guilty of murder for shooting man, forcing friend to shoot him

Jury finds man guilty of murder for shooting man, forcing friend to shoot him

(Salt Lake County Jail)


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SALT LAKE CITY — A jury found a man guilty Tuesday of kidnapping two men over a drug debt, shooting one of them and then forcing that man's friend to finish him off.

Christopher Kim Leech, 38, was found guilty of aggravated murder in the death of Cleat Aaron Knight, 34, whose body was found near Snowbasin in January 2014. Police believe Knight and a friend were kidnapped from West Valley City around Nov. 23, 2013.

Leech, of West Valley City, was also convicted of two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated robbery, and obstructing justice, all first-degree felonies.

The aggravated murder and kidnapping charges carry potential sentences of life in prison without parole. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 2.

Police said Leech and three others — Viliamu Seumanu, 44, of West Jordan; Tina Maxine Soules, 43, of West Valley City; and Theron Myore, 45, of Roosevelt — kidnapped Knight and his friend over an unsettled drug debt.

The friend told police the group took him against his will and held him in a West Valley home. He listened as the group discussed kidnapping Knight and killing them both, charging documents state.

During the conversation Myore reported he had a .40-caliber handgun with him and Soules asked that the friend not be killed, the charges state.

After the group took Knight, the men were bound and blindfolded and driven to Weber County, police say.

"While in the truck, Mr. Knight pleaded for his life and asked them not to go through with their plans," charges state.

Off a side road up Weber Canyon, the two men were taken from the truck and marched away from the road by Leech and Seumanu, charges state.

Leech reportedly shot Knight in the back, then handed the gun to the second kidnapping victim and told him to shoot Knight or be killed himself, according to the charges. The friend shot Knight, who was left in the canyon as the rest of the group left, taking the friend with them, police said.

After returning to West Valley City, the group took the man's clothes to burn and provided him with new ones, charges state.

Seumanu was found guilty in April 2015 of murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping, first-degree felonies, and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the aggravated kidnapping, and terms of 15 years to life in prison for the murder and second aggravated kidnapping charges.

Soules and Myore are each charged with murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping, all first-degree felonies. A jury trial for Soules is scheduled to begin Nov. 1. Myore's case is also ongoing.

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McKenzie Romero

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