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Ayoola Ajayi Sentenced To Life For Murder Of Mackenzie Lueck

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The man who pleaded guilty to the murder of University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck has been sentenced in Third District Court.

Sixteen months after the horrific murder, Ayoola Ajayi, 32, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Family members faced the killer for the first time, and condemned Ajayi for stealing her from their lives.

“It haunts me daily that I was not able to protect her,” said Lueck’s eldest cousin who last saw her when they attended their grandmother’s funeral in California, just before Mackenzie came back to Salt Lake City. “This is a nightmare you can’t wake up from. I will never be able to forgive what happened to her. I will never forgive the monster who took her life.”

Ajayi made a plea agreement with prosecutors earlier in October. He admitted that he killed Lueck on June 17, 2019 with a blow to the head, then burned her body in his backyard, and buried the remains in a shallow grave in Logan Canyon.

As part of the deal, Ajayi pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a body, and in exchange, prosecutors took the death penalty off the table.

He also faced aggravated kidnapping and obstruction charges, but those were dropped.

Lueck’s parents spoke emotionally in court Friday about their intelligent and caring daughter who was so full of life.

“I won’t be able to hug her and tell her how proud of her I am, and see her amazing smile and big brown eyes telling me how much she loves me,” said her father, Greg.

They lamented the fact that they will never get to see their 23-year old daughter graduate, marry, and have her own family.

“My life has been changed due to the selfish, premeditated decision you made on June 17, 2019,” said her mother, Diana. “Instead of planning my daughter’s graduation party, I planned her memorial.”

Investigators used video surveillance and cell phone records to place Lueck with her killer after her arrival at the airport and track his movements. They said the data helped lead to his arrest.

Detectives also found a freshly dug site in Ajayi’s backyard where he burned the student’s body with gasoline before taking the remains to Logan Canyon.

Ajayi made a brief apology to the family, acknowledging that it will not bring her back.

The family said they are grateful for the support and outpouring of love that people have shown for Mackenzie and their family.

“We are blessed and honored to have Mackenzie in our lives for the last 23 years,” said her uncle, Gordon Stephens, reading a statement from the family. “Her memories and her spirit will continue to live with us.”

In sentencing Ajayi to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the judge said his crimes were among the worst of the worst.

Ajayi also appeared in court earlier this month on 19 felony accounts linked to child pornography that was allegedly found on his computer.

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