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Man who procured gun in Lauren McCluskey’s murder sentenced to time served

Posted at 4:13 PM, Sep 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-11 22:25:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Nathan Vogel was sentenced to time served and three years probation for procuring the handgun ultimately used to kill University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey.

The sentence was a part of a deal Vogel struck with federal prosecutors where he cooperated with their investigation into McCluskey's murder.

"He’s a decent person and that’s all I have to say," Vogel's attorney, Randy Ludlow, told FOX 13 as he left the federal courthouse.

As he left court, Vogel attempted to cover his face with an umbrella and walked quickly past reporters, declining to answer a question seeking comment.

Vogel and his friend, Sarah Lady, were indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a "straw buy" of the handgun that was used to kill Lauren McCluskey outside her college dorm last year. Vogel was accused of taking Lady into a gun store to purchase the .40 caliber Beretta, then turning around and giving the gun to Melvin Rowland -- who killed McCluskey and later himself.

McCluskey briefly dated Rowland but broke it off after she discovered he'd lied about his age and his past. Vogel, who came forward after learning of McCluskey's murder and cooperated with police, said he was also deceived by Rowland. Ludlow told U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell that Vogel knew Rowland as "Shawn Matthews" at the bar they both worked at. Rowland told him he wanted the gun for target practice and was to pay him $400 for it, Ludlow said.

Vogel also told the judge that he had socialized with Rowland and McCluskey briefly and apologized for what happened.

"I accept full responsibility for what has happened. It’s extremely sad," Vogel said in court. "I shake when I think about it. I cry when I think about it."

McCluskey's family agreed to the deal and the sentence, prosecutors told the judge. Lauren's mother, Jill McCluskey, declined to comment when contacted by FOX 13 on Wednesday.

"Mr. Vogel should have never done this. If he hadn’t ever given the gun to Mr. Rowland, Ms. McCluskey likely would be alive today," assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Esqueda told reporters outside of court.

Prosecutors have agreed to give Lady a diversion agreement. Her case has been delayed for 18 months and, if she continues to cooperate, then the case against her will be dismissed.

"Ms. Lady cooperated in our investigation. She brought forth facts that we were aware of but couldn’t confirm regarding Mr. Vogel. She has absolutely no criminal history. The evidence indicates Mr. Vogel used her as well," Esqueda said. "They had known each other for 11 days. She thought they were an item."

Vogel, who also has no prior criminal history, has already served 10 days in a federal facility.

"I don’t think he had an intent to have Ms. McCluskey murdered, but this goes to show you that when you obtain a gun illegally, they always, always end up in the wrong hands," Esqueda said. "Tragic events happen."