Court documents: Woman found dead in car in Mona was shot after drug-fueled road trip following South Dakota murder, suspect said

File photo: Max Pixel

JUAB COUNTY, Utah, Aug. 23, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Court documents say a woman whose body was found Sunday in a car in Mona died as a result of a single gunshot wound, after she and three others fled South Dakota following the revenge killing of a man there.

David Manuel Mestas, 26, told Juab County Sheriff’s officials he shot the woman, whose body was found concealed in the car, his probable cause statement says. Mestas faces charges of:

  • Murder, a first-degree felony
  • Abuse or desecration of a dead human body, a third-degree felony

The other man in the car, 26-year-old Richard Anthony Sanchez, declined to answer officers’ questions. He faces charges of:

  • Obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony
  • Abuse or desecration of a dead human body, a third-degree felony

Both Mestas and Sanchez are being held in the Juab County Jail. A female passenger in the car talked to officers and reportedly corroborated the story told by Mestas. No name or charging documents were found for the female witness.

Gas station fight

Juab County Sheriff’s officers were called to the scene of the Mona Park ‘N Pump at 12:54 p.m. Sunday on a report of a fight between two men, with one throwing a beer bottle at the other, Mestas’ probable cause statement says.

“During the fight, a witness was told there was a body in the vehicle these individuals arrived in. The involved person … stated that their friend is dead in the vehicle,” the statement says.

A firearm was found under the driver’s seat, and a search of the vehicle turned up the remains of a woman who had been shot once in the head, then hidden in the back, partially in the trunk, concealed under bags and articles of clothing, the statement says.

The investigating officer noted that “the involved persons” did “appear to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.”

The two men and the surviving woman who had been in the car with them were taken to the sheriff’s office for questioning, the probable cause statement says.

“The female suspect was pistol whipped in the face by a man in South Dakota several months ago,” the statement says. “The two male suspects are her brothers. One of the male suspects started hanging out with the deceased victim. The female suspect knew the female victim, and started talking. The female suspect told the female victim about the incident involving her being pistol whipped.”

South Dakota crime

The female victim (now deceased) told the suspect that she knew the man who had pistol whipped the female suspect, and that he messaged her often. The suspect asked the female victim not to alert the man who pistol whipped her, the statement says.

“The female victim then set up the man who pistol whipped the female suspect,” it says. “When the man arrived, a shooting took place where the two male suspects were probably involved.”

The affidavit says that before the men fled South Dakota, they stopped at a gun store to purchase firearms. They planned on driving to Las Vegas, the statement says.

“While interviewing one of the male suspects, he confessed to the homicide,” the officer’s statement says. “The male explained what happened in South Dakota and why they left the state. The male suspect stated that during the ride he was using methamphetamine heavily. The male suspect stated that he kept hearing others talk about him and making comments toward him. The male suspect believed the female victim in particular was calling him a snitch.”

The male suspect “stated he lifted the gun up and pointed it at her multiple times,” Mestas’ affidavit says. “The male suspect said he did not know why he did this. The male suspect said he felt weird and thought it was maybe the drugs. The male suspect said he lifted the gun up and pulled the trigger. The male said he shot her and after that, everything went blank.”

Mestas told officers he did not remember much of what happened until “the car got stuck,” at which time “he and the other male suspect relocated the female victim into the rear of the vehicle and tried to conceal her.”

The two men and the female witness who had said the men were her brothers then drove to the gas station and got into the fight, the statement says.

Mestas and Sanchez were booked into jail and are being held without bail due to the seriousness of the crime, the evidence, and their perceived status as extreme flight risks.

Gephardt Daily will have more information on this developing story as details become available.

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