Woman sentenced for her role in kidnapping, murder

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A woman will go to prison for at least 12 years for her role in the kidnapping and murder of a West Valley City man. Tuusao Ama's attorney says she was in the wrong place at the wrong time but also allowed the crime to happen.

Ama pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated kidnapping Monday. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the aggravated burglary and robbery charges. A judge sentenced her to 12 years to life in prison.

Ama is one of four people charged in the murder of Jay Wolfinjer last October. Police say they beat Wolfinjer in his West Jordan apartment and then again at a house in West Valley City.

Wolfinjer was found barely alive in a shed. He had been brutally beaten and his hands and feet were bound. He died at a hospital.

Police said the motive was a drug debt. Ama's attorney says she drove an injured Wolfinjer from his apartment to the house where he met his death.

"She didn't start out intending to hurt anybody. She was just looking for some dope. Everything steamrolled on her. She got herself involved and she didn't know what she was getting into," defense attorney Manny Garcia said.

Prosecutors also charged Ooleanui Salanoa, Fonua Kimoana and Pailate Lomu. In a plea deal, Lomu pleaded guilty to murder and aggravated kidnapping. He will be sentenced on Aug. 17.

On the other hand, Kimoana says he eager to go to trial and wants to leave his fate in the hands of a jury. He pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated kidnapping, burglary and robbery.

On Monday, a judge set a November trial date for Kimoana. His attorney says it's something he's looking forward to because he maintains his innocence.

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

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Sandra Yi


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