A Spanish Fork man has been charged with obstructing justice and owning firearms in connection to a shooting in Springville last month that left one person dead.
Officers arrested Francisco Topete Hernandez, 31, on Monday after discovering he may have been one of the last people to see Lazaro Morales, 29, alive before his body was found under a Springville train overpass last month.
Morales had been drinking alcohol and using drugs at his home in Springville with Victor Hugo Contreras-Nathanson, 25, until midnight on Sept. 22, according to court documents.
Around 1:30 a.m., the two men left Springville and traveled to Hernandez’s house in Spanish Fork. After 45 to 50 minutes, Morales and Contreras-Nathanson went to the train overpass where Contreras-Nathanson reportedly shot Morales several times.
Morales “appears to have been in the act of ‘tagging’ a concrete pillar when (he) was shot at least (four) times with a 9mm handgun,” police reported. “One of the bullets struck the victim’s heart, killing him almost instantly.”
Officers responded to the scene and did not find bullet casings at the scene, but discovered fresh graffiti, a footprint, tire tracks and white paint near the body.
Investigators also found evidence that the gunman had left the scene in a vehicle and ran over a white spray paint can, causing it to explode and cover the vehicle in white paint.
In interviews with officers, Contreras-Nathanson reportedly said he spent most of the previous night with Morales using cocaine, methamphetamine and alcohol.
He also reportedly said he was so high that he blacked out and doesn’t remember anything after 10 p.m. and “it was possible” he shot and killed Morales, police reported.
The next day, Contreras-Nathanson reportedly asked Hernandez to clean his maroon Nissan Maxima for his wedding anniversary. The vehicle was still parked at Hernandez’s home in Spanish Fork when police arrived and found white paint smudges on the tires and passenger side door.
“Hernandez said he cleaned white paint off the outside of the vehicle but did not clean the inside,” charges state. “While officers were on scene, neighbors approached and provided information about Hernandez having taken multiple hours to clean the car, and about Hernandez having the vehicle’s doors and trunk open.”
Investigators obtained a search warrant for his home and found a sawed off shotgun, a .22 caliber revolver and marijuana and drug paraphernalia inside, charges state.
The residence is also licensed as a daycare facility and there are children living in the residence above Hernandez’s basement apartment, police reported.
“Hernandez indicated that he did not tell officers all the information he knew of the circumstance because he ‘did not want to get involved,’” charges state. “He then provided to officers more specific exculpatory information regarding Contreras’ involvement in the murder of Morales.”
He was charged on Friday with obstructing justice, a second-degree felony; possession of drug paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor; possession of a controlled substance, a class B misdemeanor; and two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, both third-degree felonies.