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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Man accused of killing Mackenzie Lueck answers sex assault charges in court

By Annie Knox, KSL | Posted - Aug. 23, 2019 at 12:07 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — The man accused of murdering University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck appeared in court Friday on separate charges of sexual assault.

Ayoola Adisa Ajayi, 31, faces the new criminal counts after a woman reported he assaulted her more than a year before the death of 23-year-old Lueck. During a brief hearing, Ajayi wore a yellow jail uniform and spoke only to respond “yes” to questions from the judge over video feed from the Salt Lake County Jail.

The woman told investigators that she spoke with Ajayi through a dating app in March 2018 and he cooked her dinner at his home in Salt Lake City, 547 N. 1000 West. When she resisted his advances, he pinned her down and continued to assault her, prosecutors say, leaving bruises and bite marks on her.

Ajayi was charged Tuesday in connection with that allegation. He faces one count of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony; and three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. Investigators learned about the allegation as they pieced together what they believe happened in Lueck’s death.

His attorney, Maren Larson, declined comment outside the courtroom.

Dating apps have also been part of the investigation into Lueck’s death. Police say she met up with Ajayi early on the morning of June 17 at Hatch Park in North Salt Lake and the two went to Ajayi’s house.

On June 26, after Lueck had been missing for a week, Salt Lake police swarmed Ajayi’s home, collecting bags of evidence. They were seen digging holes in his backyard near where neighbors had reported seeing him pouring gasoline on items and burning them.

An autopsy determined Lueck died from blunt force trauma to the left side of her skull. After she was killed, prosecutors say Ajayi set fire to her body. Her charred remains were found by police in a shallow grave under a grove of trees in Logan Canyon on July 3.

In Lueck’s death, Ajayi faces several charges including aggravated murder, a capital offense.

In a third pending criminal case, Ajayi is charged with 19 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, after police said they found child pornography on devices seized from his home.

He has not entered pleas to any of the charges against him. Originally of Nigeria, he has been jailed since his arrest on June 28.

He is due back in court to answer the sexual assault charges Sept. 9.

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