3rd person arrested in 2019 Salt Lake woman murder

Salt Lake Police Captain Viictor Siebeneck in February announced the names of six suspects believed to be linked to the 2019 shooting death of Kathryn Blaire Leavitt, 27. Police announced on Friday that a third suspect had been arrested. (Pat Reavy, KSL.com)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A third person has been arrested in connection with the 2019 murder of a Salt Lake woman.

The arrest comes three years to the day that the door to 27-year-old Kathryn Blaire Leavitt’s apartment at 1211 N. Redwood Road was kicked open and several shots were fired. Leavitt was shot twice and killed while her roommate was hiding in another room.

In February, Salt Lake police, for the first time, announced the names of six suspects believed to have been involved in Leavitt’s death: Katoa Pahulu, 26; Sunia Cavazos, 22; Tevita Kofutua, 37; Lahelle Fiefia, 36; Mapilivai Laulea, 26; and Timote Fonua, 41.

Fiefia, of West Jordan, was arrested a week later and charged with obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. Then in March, Pahulu turned himself in to Maui Police Department officers after learning that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. He was charged with murder and aggravated burglary, first degree felonies; and obstruction of justice, a second degree felony.

Police announced on Friday that Fonua, of San Mateo, Calif., had been arrested. Fonua was charged March 16 in 3rd District Court with first-degree felony murder and aggravated burglary, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. The charges were sealed as police searched for Fonua. Thursday after the announcement of his arrest, these charges were revealed. He and Pahulu are listed in the charging documents as co-defendants.

Fonua was taken into custody Wednesday following a confrontation with a SWAT team in San Mateo, police say.

Leavitt’s roommate was questioned by police after the shooting in 2019. She said she was woken around 6:30 a.m. by noises in the apartment. She found five men she didn’t know, plus Leavitt, according to police. She told the men to shut up and then went back to bed. After telling the men twice more to shut up, some of the men escorted at least one member of the group, according to charging documents.

“Soon after, (she) heard the sound of the front door being forced open, followed by two gunshots,” according to the charges.

The roommate was later able to identify some of the men in the apartment, including Fonua, according to the charges. Police questioned Fonua in California in August, but he said he “hasn’t been to Utah in almost three years.”

However, DNA taken from a cigarette found at the crime scene was later matched to Fonua, the charges allege. Detectives also spoke to several witnesses who they said “identified (Fonua) as one of the men who was excited and animated before the apartment door was kicked in and shots were fired. “.

Prosecutors will now work to extradite Fonua to Utah for trial.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and court reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021 after many years reporting for the Deseret News

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