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Appeals court upholds conviction for man who murdered Salt Lake teen

Appeals court upholds conviction for man who murdered Salt Lake teen

(Al Hartmann, Pool Photo, File)


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appeals has upheld a conviction for a man serving a life prison sentence for shooting a Salt Lake teenager and dumping his body in a vacant lot.

Frank Paul Reyos, 35, was found guilty in October 2014 and sentenced the next year to life in prison without possibility of parole for the aggravated murder of 16-year-old Kenyatta Winston. The teen was found shot to death in a vacant lot at 1120 E. Crandall Ave. (2900 South) in August 2012.

Reyos, Winston and a woman had been driving around together when they got a call from a woman they knew who said she was being harassed at a party about a tattoo identifying her as being from the west side of Salt Lake City, according to the appellate court's decision handed down Friday.

When they reached the party, a fight ensued and Winston ran as gunfire rang out, according to the decision. Reyos, meanwhile, was badly beaten until he managed to get back to the car and the woman who had been with them took him back to a motel room.

When Winston arrived the next morning, claiming he had fled because his gun had jammed and he didn't want to lose it, the woman warned him that Reyos was upset. Winston had left him during the fight and advised he "lay low for a little while," the decision states. Winston was still at the motel when Reyos returned, suggesting they go together to fix Winston's gun.

However, when the group drove to Sugar House looking for something they could steal, Reyos turned a gun on Winston. The teen's body was found three days later.

Appealing his conviction, Reyos argued that testimony should not have been allowed at trial from an acquaintance who told police he'd had a conversation with Reyos about the shooting and that Reyos had said he'd shot Winston because the teen had "set him up."

According to the court's decision, the acquaintance agreed to a recorded interview with police, signing a statement at the end asserting it was true. However, at trial, the man said he had never participated in an interview with police or signed the statement, even though the voice in the recording and the accompanying signature were similar to his.

Reyos argued that the conviction should be tossed because, since the witnesses claimed he had no memory of the conversation or his statements to police, he could not be meaningfully cross-examined at trial.

The appellate court disagreed, saying the law guarantees only an opportunity for cross-examination of witnesses, not an assurance that questioning will go as the defense wishes, according to the decision authored by Judge Kate Toomey.

Reyos also sought to contest his sentence, life in prison with no chance of parole, saying the life term and Utah's sentencing matrix are unconstitutional. The appellate court determined Reyos had not sufficiently analyzed the claim and therefore did not address the question.

Reyos remains incarcerated in Utah State Prison.

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McKenzie Romero

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