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Jury trial begins for 2 men charged in U of U scientist’s death

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Posted at 3:14 PM, Feb 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-11 17:14:44-05

OGDEN, Utah -- Two men charged in the death of University of Utah scientist Esther Fujimoto were in court Monday for the beginning of their trial.

Colton Raines and Robert Cole Boyer are charged with reckless endangerment, obstructing justice and failure to give name and assistance at an accident, according to court documents. The court heard opening arguments from the prosecution and the defense, as well as witness testimony.

The two men, as well as a third man named Skyler Shepherd, allegedly struck Fujimoto with their boat at Pineview Reservoir in August 2011. They did not stop to help.

Vaughn Anderson was an eye-witness to the accident, and he described what he saw during his testimony: “I used my iPhone to try and take a picture of their boat, but they took off. It was like they were pulling a water skier. They took off fast to get out of there.”

Shepherd was convicted of the same charges the other two men are facing, and he was sentenced in January to the maximum penalty, which will put him behind bars for about 2-1/2 years. Shepherd is expected to be called as a witness in Raines and Boyer's trial. If he refuses to testify he could be charged with contempt of court.

The trial began Monday at 9 a.m. in Utah’s Second District Court before Judge Ernie Jones.