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PROVO — An Orem man who is accused of shooting and killing his acquaintance while the acquaintance’s girlfriend and young daughter looked on has pleaded not guilty.
Elbert John Paule, 19, appeared in 4th District Court in Utah County Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to four charges, including felony murder and obstructing justice, as well as misdemeanor reckless endangerment and assault, court records show.
On Feb. 28, Dominique Barnett, along with his girlfriend and daughter, went to an apartment complex in Orem to visit with Paule, according to charging documents.
Barnett, 26, and Paule previously had a disagreement that played out through electronic messages, according to the charges. The girlfriend later told investigators that Barnett wanted to make amends with Paule.
Barnett knocked on the door of a third-floor unit, where Paule was inside with some other people, according to the charges. Barnett was carrying his daughter in a car seat and set the child down near his feet.
A witness later told police that after Barnett knocked, Paule looked out the peephole, grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun from the kitchen table, opened the door and fired one round, striking Barnett in the torso, according to the charges.
Barnett was transported to a hospital nearby, but died from his injuries, according to police.
Paule threw the gun off a third-floor balcony, where it was later recovered, charging documents state. Barnett’s girlfriend tried to stop Paule, but he hit her and then fled the scene, according to the charges.
Paule bought a bus ticket and traveled to the San Diego, California, area, charges state. He turned himself in to authorities in California on March 2 and was then extradited back to Utah. He was booked into the Utah County Jail on March 11, according to jail records.
Paule remains in custody in Utah County on a $500,000 cash-only bond, jail records show. His next court appearance will be a pretrial conference scheduled for July 31.