Shepherd found guilty in Pineview boating death

Posted at 1:55 PM, Dec 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-14 19:36:45-05

OGDEN, Utah -- A jury of five men and one woman deliberated about an hour-and-a-half before finding Skyler Shepherd guilty in the death of a woman who was hit by his boat and left to die in Pineview Reservoir.

Skyler Shepherd was convicted of misdemeanor reckless endangerment, obstruction of justice and failure to render aid in the death of Esther Fujimoto. She was swimming in Pineview Reservoir last year when she was struck by a boat and cut up by the propeller.

Prosecutors argued that Shepherd, his friends Colton Raines and Cole Boyer, turned around and asked her "Lady, are you OK?" Then they sped off, leaving her to die in the water.

"They had a duty to report this and they didn't do it," Dean Saunders, deputy Weber County Attorney, told the jury in his closing statement.

He accused Shepherd of trying to cover up the crime. Defense attorney Glen Neeley insisted to the jury that his client simply did not know that they had struck her.

"They didn't hear, they didn't see and they didn't know," he told the jury.

Neeley cast some of the blame on Shepherd's co-defendants, Raines and Boyer. Those two will go on trial on similar charges next year.

"Now there is some resolution and for that we are grateful," Esther Fujimoto's brother, Bryan, said outside of court. "Our sister died a horrible death at hands of those who had guilt, and it was shown today that this process works."

Shepherd refused comment outside the courthouse on Friday afternoon. He faces 2 1/2 years in jail when he is sentenced on Jan. 23. The judge allowed him to remain free pending sentencing.

Related: Man says victim never asked for help in boating death case