Prosecutors: Ex-con spent hours looking for a victim before killing University of Utah student

Law enforcement officers search the hills near the mouth of Red Butte Canyon, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in Salt Lake City for the suspect in a fatal carjacking attempt near the University of Utah. The suspect, Austin Boutain, was taken into custody later that day. | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An ex-convict accused of gunning down a University of Utah student with a weapon stolen from a slain Colorado man was charged Thursday with aggravated murder, robbery and a dozen other counts.

Austin Boutain, 24, hatched the deadly carjacking plot with his wife, who is also accused in the Colorado murder case, prosecutors said in court documents.

This undated photo shows Austin Boutain, who was charged with aggravated murder and other counts in connection with the fatal shooting of a University of Utah student Oct. 30, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office via Associated Press, St. George News

They watched cars for hours Oct. 30 as Kathleen Boutain pointed out potential victims at a canyon near campus. She eventually became frustrated at his reluctance to attack someone during daylight, called him a coward and the couple fought.

He pistol-whipped her and she walked down to the university to report him, authorities said.

Kathleen Boutain was charged with six counts, including criminal solicitation and theft.

After she left, he attacked 23-year-old student Chenwei Guo and tried to drag Guo’s female friend up a nearby canyon, police said. She ran away, narrowly escaping shots he fired at her, and called police.

No attorneys were listed for the Boutains on Thursday.

The couple were drifters who fled to Utah after cutting the throat of Mitchell Ingle, 63, and stealing his guns in Golden, Colorado, authorities have said.

They met Ingle a couple times before they started drinking and smoking marijuana at his trailer home Oct. 27, police said. Austin Boutain got angry when Ingle made sexual comments and the pair decided he would kill the older man so they could take his trailer, according to Colorado court documents.

Austin Boutain cut his host’s throat before the couple grabbed three guns and drove off in his pickup truck, headed for Utah, Colorado police said.

Ingle’s body was found in his home a few days later, after Guo’s death. Police say the husband and wife both were both wearing his clothes when they were arrested.

Austin Boutain has a rap sheet that includes drug, car theft and weapons charges dating back to his days as a juvenile. He was released from an Alabama prison this spring, but skipped parole in Wisconsin a few months later and wound up living under a bridge with his wife in Golden, Colorado, authorities said.

In Salt Lake City, they lived around a homeless shelter for a couple days before setting up camp in Red Butte Canyon, where they hatched the plot to find a car, force the driver inside and make their way to Tennessee, the Thursday charges state. They planned to use the victim’s money to fund the trip before killing them.

Austin Boutain used one of the guns stolen from Ingle to kill Guo, a computer-science student from China, police said. He told police he knocked on Guo’s car window shortly after his wife walked away to ask if he’d seen her, but when Guo didn’t answer he “became enraged” and fired at the car until the gun was empty.

Guo died of a gunshot wound to the neck.

The killing set off a manhunt in the foothills near Salt Lake City, but Austin Boutain managed to escape by crawling on his belly through the thick underbrush and dropping into a well-to-do neighborhood on Salt Lake City’s north side, police said.

He was caught after an alert librarian spotted him at the downtown library.

Written by LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Caveat_Emptor November 18, 2017 at 8:25 am

    When you look at what happened here, you have to consider the element of good luck in catching this bad guy.
    He and his wife were almost invisible to Utah police, until she reported his attack on her to police. Then, despite some intense ground searching he still managed to make his way to downtown SLC the next day.
    The librarian was a huge factor in bringing this to closure, without further bloodshed.

    The University of Utah Police Department has a challenging job keeping folks safe on the campus, adjacent to the foothills. We can only hope that after they are disciplined for standing around while a SLCPD cop assaults a UofU nurse (BTW – a fellow UofU employee), they perform an after action review to see what they should be doing differently to protect their campus.

  • Jacqwayne November 26, 2017 at 10:34 am

    We need to change our justice system. For people like this duo, we need a “Fast Track” trial and sentencing. If found guilty and are given the death penalty, they should be entitled to one quick appeal. If that is not successful in overturning the sentence, they should be put to death with in the first year.

    My best friend had the top of his head removed by a 50 cal. bullet while piloting a medivac helicopter in Vietnam. The conditions we lived in, in the jungles of Vietnam, were far worse than those who are in prison get to experience. It doesn’t make me happy to see people like these two, spending the next 15 to 20 years appealing their sentence while living in conditions better than what many of our soldiers, fighting to defend our freedoms, have to endure.

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