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SALT LAKE CITY — A judge on Thursday ordered a Herriman man to stand trial on charges of shooting into a car, killing one person and injuring two others after a disagreement over a drug deal.
Andrew Whatcott, who turns 19 on Friday, was charged as an adult in October 2020 when he was 17. He is charged with murder and five counts of discharge of a firearm causing serious injury, first-degree felonies; plus possession of a firearm by a restricted person and obstructing justice, second-degree felonies.
Police were called to Tanner Park, 2695 E. Heritage Way, on Oct. 18, 2020, and discovered that two men and a woman had been shot. Domnyk Marez, 25, later died from his injuries.
The woman later told police that she had arranged to buy marijuana from Whatcott, but there was a disagreement over the price when they met. The woman told Whatcott to get out of her car but he refused, and Marez pushed Whatcott out of the vehicle, according to charging documents. When Marez told the woman to drive off, "that was when 'Drew' started shooting at them," the charges state.
Third District Judge Mark Kouris determined he had heard enough evidence to support the charges to warrant a trial after hearing the testimony from the case's lead police investigator.
Kouris asked for clarification about the charges of discharge of a firearm causing serious injury, asking for each of them to be modified to be tied to a specific person and injury. One count tied to a bullet wound in the man's leg was amended to a discharge of a firearm that caused injury, but not serious injury.
Whatcott's attorneys argued that there was no concrete evidence tying him to the gun and that there was no evidence presented at the preliminary hearing showing any intent from Whatcott to commit any crime except to get away from the scene.
"It seems to me there's more going on here than meets the eye … and I'm sure there's some reason why this went down the way it did," said defense attorney Roy Cole.
The police investigator who testified said that the gun, which was found discarded near the scene, was processed for DNA, but there were so many DNA profiles found on the gun that they could not sufficiently analyze it. He also said that Whatcott's fingerprints were not found on the weapon.
Deputy Salt Lake County district attorney Shane Cohen, however, said statements from two witnesses provided enough evidence to show that Whatcott was the gunman.
Cole said that he plans to pursue a self-defense argument for Whatcott, who entered pleas of not guilty for each of the charges against him.