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Man accused of Utah teen's murder extradited from Mexico

Posted at 7:49 AM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-08 02:44:16-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A man who police say is responsible for the murder of a Utah teen has been extradited from Mexico to face charges.

Fortunato Villegrana, 27, was booked in jail on charges of murder and felony discharge of a firearm Friday morning. He's one of two people accused of killing Paris Gustin, 16, on July 5, 2016. Villegrana allegedly shot at Gustin's car with an AK-47, according to a news release from police.

Gustin's girlfriend at the time, Jeynnie Valdovinos, told FOX 13 in 2016 that they had just spent the 4th of July holiday together with his family before the shooting.

She described him as a funny, loving boyfriend, who was outgoing and got along with people everywhere. She said he attended Granite Connections High School and loved playing football at West High School.

"It's hard to lose the one that you love," Valdovinos said. "And to know that I am not going to be able to see him again. It's really hard."

Villegrana fled to Mexico shortly after the fatal shooting, according to police, and he has been on the run since a warrant was issued for his arrest in 2017.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the shooting happened while Gustin, was in the front passenger seat of his friend's car as they drove around the Rose Park area throwing eggs at people and things.

When a white sedan approached Gustin and his friends, he leaned out of the passenger side and tossed an egg through the open driver-side window, striking the driver, according to charge documents.

An identical car passed the youngsters in the opposite direction a short time later, performed a U-turn, and resumed following them, according to the allegations. Then the driver of the other vehicle opened fire.

According to the allegations, Gustin cried out that he had been shot, and the young driver observed his friend was bleeding. Gustin was dead when police arrived.

Ashley Carter, Gustin's mother, visited her son's memorial on Friday.

"To say this has been a nightmare is an understatement," she said.

Carter remembers the day her son was killed like it was yesterday.

"To wake up and hear that your child has been murdered, it flips your whole world upside down," she said.

Since the Granite Connections High School student and West High football player's death, his mom hasn't stopped fighting to bring the men police say are responsible to justice.

"What I did for the past five years is basically pay Facebook to boost my posts through Mexico," Carter said. "And finally, somebody had seen my post and reached out to me and said, 'I know where your son’s killer is.'"

Carter says after that information was verified, police were able to arrest Villegrana in Mexico back in June. That led to him eventually being extradited back to Utah on Thursday.

Now, Carter is just left with pictures and memories of her only child.

"You can ask anybody, he was just the nicest kid, he was funny, he would help anybody any time he could," said Carter. "He will live on forever for sure. His story has made it all across the world, his story has made it all the way to New Zealand, so the world will know Paris Gustin’s name forever."

Villegrana is presently being held on $1 million bail at the Salt Lake County Jail.