Tech worker pleads guilty to killing and burning California student Mackenzie Lueck

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By LINDSAY WHITEHURST | The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY  — A tech worker pleaded guilty on Wednesday to strangling a Utah college student whose disappearance over a year ago sparked a search that ended with the discovery of her charred remains in his backyard.

FILE – In this Dec. 20, 2019, file photo, Ayoola A. Ajayi appears in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City. Ajayi pleaded guilty in the death of a Utah college student Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, more than a year after her disappearance sparked a large-scale search that ended with the discovery of her charred remains in his backyard. Ajayi is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck. (Jeffrey D. Allred/The Deseret News via AP, File) 

Ayoola A. Ajayi acknowledged he planned the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck, whom he met on a dating app and arranged to meet in a park. After they returned to his home, he bound and strangled her, then burned and hid her body while police and loved ones searched for her, his lawyer said in court.

Ajayi pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a corpse in an agreement with prosecutors that removed the possibility of the death penalty. Prosecutors dropped charges of aggravated kidnapping and obstructing justice.

Ajayi also pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a different woman he met on a dating app. He is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the guilty pleas allow Lueck’s parents to begin to get closure and a “measure of justice.” Gill said the family has asked for privacy.

Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person who belonged to a sorority


Man Pleads Guilty to Killing and Burning a Utah College Student

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A Utah man who wrote a book that described the burning deaths of two people pleaded guilty on Wednesday to killing a University of Utah student whose charred remains he buried in his backyard last year, prosecutors said.

The man, Ayoola A. Ajayi, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated murder and one count of desecration of a human body in the death of the student, Mackenzie Lueck, 23, whom Mr. Ajayi had met on a dating website, according to the Salt Lake County district attorney.

Under a deal with prosecutors, Mr. Ajayi, 32, will avoid a possible death sentence and will be sentenced later this month to life in prison without parole, the district attorney, Sim Gill, said.

Mr. Gill said Mr. Ajayi had also pleaded guilty on Wednesday to forcible sex abuse in a separate episode in March 2018, when he met another woman online, invited her to his house for dinner and then assaulted her as they watched television on his couch.

Mr. Gill said prosecutors had spoken to Ms. Lueck’s family about the plea agreement.

“Hopefully,’’ he said, “this is the beginning of closure for them and maybe for the retrieval of some measure of justice for this incredible loss they’ve suffered as a family.”

Mr. Ajayi’s lawyer, Neal G. Hamilton, declined to comment.

Mr. Ajayi and Ms. Lueck met in 2018 on the website Seeking Arrangement and then met in a park on June 17, 2019, prosecutors said. Mr. Ajayi, an information technology worker, had decided before the meeting that he would murder Ms. Lueck, prosecutors said, and turned off the video on his home security system before leaving his home to meet her.

After Ms. Lueck went back to Mr. Ajayi’s house, he tied her up and choked her, first with his hands and


New Orleans grand jury hands up murder charge in university student’s killing | Courts

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An Orleans Parish grand jury on Thursday indicted two people in connection with fatal shootings that left a university student and a teenage boy dead.

Breonna Green, 26, was charged with second-degree murder in the killing of a Southern University at New Orleans student in Mid-City in June.

Green is accused of firing a gun at two women she was arguing with in the parking lot of the Marquis Apartments in the 2600 block of Poydras Street on the night of June 3. Prosecutors said a single gunshot to the chest killed the student, 22-year-old Lashonda Temple, and a 25-year-old woman was also wounded in her left arm.

Lashonda Temple

Lashonda Temple

Temple had one more year left in college. “She was the life of every party and was truly loved by many,” an obituary said.

The victims of the shooting had just left from a visit with their co-worker, Green’s boyfriend, according to Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s Office. Prosecutors allege that Green and her boyfriend followed them outside before the shooting, and Green was captured on video surveillance leaving with a gun in her hand.

Green also faces charges of attempted second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. She’s been in custody at the Orleans Justice Center since her June 8 arrest.

“We vehemently maintain her innocence and look forward to gaining her freedom,” defense attorney John Fuller said in a statement.

Green’s boyfriend does not face any charges, according to a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office.

Separately, an 18-year-old was accused of second-degree murder in connection with a fatal double shooting in New Orleans East last year.

Rontrell Henry

Rontrell Henry

Timothy Trader is accused of killing Rontrell Henry, 17, and wounding a 16-year-old boy outside an apartment building at 8501 North I-10 Service Road on Aug. 6,