Two men accused of armed robbery at a local Burger King appeared in 1st District Court for preliminary hearings on Tuesday.
Matthew Kay Archuletta, 27, waived his hearing to preserve a plea offer from Cache County prosecutors. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, was bound over for trial and set to appear before the court again on March 8.
Luis Alfredo Maldanado, 30, had his hearing postponed after nearly an hour of technological issues halted prosecutors from presenting evidence to the court. Courts have been operating online via video conference call since COVID-19 restrictions on Utah courts have suspended all in-person hearings without exigent circumstances.
“We’re all still working through the difficulties of these online hearings,” Judge Angela Fonnesbeck said during the hearings on Tuesday, explaining she was hopeful to resume regular court proceedings soon when COVID-19 infection rates ebb further.
Defense attorney John Easton told the court the amount of evidence in the case — specifically an estimated two hours of video footage — might warrant an in-person proceeding.
“We’re an hour into it and we’ve only gone through a four-minute 911 call,” Easton told the court.
Fonnesbeck found the circumstances in Maldanado’s case justified an in-person preliminary hearing and set Maldanado to appear in front of Judge Brian Cannell on Feb. 17 for a scheduling conference.
“Justice requires that I make that order,” Fonnesbeck said.
Maldanado and Archuleta face multiple felony counts for allegedly robbing individuals at gunpoint outside of a local Burger King on Oct. 13.
Prosecutors allege two men — along with a teenage minor who has allegedly fled the jurisdiction of the court — pointed a shotgun at two victims sitting in their car. The minor entered the back seat of the victim’s vehicle and showed a handgun held in his waistband, according to police, and money was handed over to the three suspects.
A matter of minutes after the incident, another set of alleged victims reported having a shotgun pointed at them while driving down Main Street in Logan.
“They braked and swerved into a parking lot and reported being in fear for their lives,” police wrote in an affidavit.
Maldanado and Archuleta were later detained for controlled substance suspicions. Police wrote evidence linking the men to the robbery incident was found after searching a vehicle and a residence. Maldanado’s ankle monitor showed the device was at the robbery location at the time the incident occurred.
Both men face life in prison if convicted.