SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 19, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — A 37-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Mechelle Lindberg, who was found last month in a Salt Lake City motel.
Besides the murder charge, Joshua Valasi Saunders is charged with obstructing justice and the possession or use of a firearm by a restricted person, both second-degree felonies.
The body of 25-year-old Lindberg, of Pleasant Grove, was found on Nov. 28 at the Gateway Inn, 819 W. North Temple.
According to a probable cause statement, motel surveillance recordings captured Saunders entering the room, 406, at 6:33 a.m. Lindberg entered the room 22 minutes later.
Twenty-three minutes later, Saunders left the room, as did Javier Rodriguez Pena, who had rented the room. Both appeared visibly shaken, according to the probable cause statement. A woman later identified as Kristie Hansen also left the room.
Later, a camera on a TRAX plantform recorded Saunders putting a black bundle into a crash can. The handle of a handgun could be seen sticking out of Saunders’ waistband.
Court documents say an anonymous tipster called police at 8:41 a.m. and said “something was happening” in the motel room.
Police found Lindberg’s body on the floor. Her cause of death was a gunshot to the head, and her manner of death was homicide.
Officers interviewed Pena and Hansen, and both admitted to being in the room with Saunders, the probable cause statement says.
“Both described hearing a loud boom, then seeing Ms. Lindberg stand and fall to the floor,” it says. “Mr. Pena made Saunders leave the room, then he and Ms. Hansen left as well. Mr. Pena and Ms. Hansen stated that when they went outside, Saunders attempted to follow them, but they were able to break away.”
Saunders is being held on $1 million cash-only bail.