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Trial begins for man accused in 2013 Uintah County murder

Published August 18, 2014 1:44 pm

Courts • Jesse Saenz is charged with first-degree felony murder.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Opening statements are expected Tuesday morning in a trial for a Utah man accused of murdering an acquaintance last year.

Jesse Anthony Saenz, 24, is charged in 8th District Court with murder, a first-degree felony, as well as theft and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, both second-degree felonies.

A jury was seated Monday for what is expected to be a week-long trial.

On April 11, 2013, Elvis Zachary Olsen, 22, was found shot to death near Fort Duchesne on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. His 2011 Mazda 3S was gone.

Nearly two weeks later, police found Olsen's car — Saenz was driving it in Arizona. Officials arrested him in Arizona and he was brought back to Utah to face charges.

Saenz and Olsen, who was a convicted sex offender, were believed to be in the Uintah County jail at the same time at one point, but they did not share a cell, according to Uintah County Undersheriff John Laursen.

At the time of the slaying, Saenz was out on bail on an unrelated sex abuse charge and had an ankle monitor. He allegedly cut the ankle monitor in Roosevelt on the day of Olsen's death.

No alleged motive for Olsen's death has ever been publicly revealed.

In the sex abuse case, Saenz was accused of following a woman home on a shuttle bus from a nightclub early June 10, 2012, according to the charges. Once they got off the bus, he punched her twice and dragged her across a street to a spot outside an apartment complex, where he raped her and broke her cellphone, charges state.

Saenz pleaded guilty last June to first-degree felony aggravated sexual assault. He was sentenced to serve a term of 15 years to life in the Utah State Prison last August.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller