Riverton man pleads guilty in road rage shooting that killed Pleasant Grove dad
Sep 27, 2023, 8:57 AM | Updated: 10:55 am
SALT LAKE CITY — A Riverton man has admitted he shot and killed a Pleasant Grove man during a road rage confrontation, saying he acted recklessly.
Rodrigo A. Monroy, 33, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, a second-degree felony, as part of a plea deal. He was originally charged with murder, a first-degree felony.
On the morning of Oct. 26, 2022, charging documents say Monroy cut off another driver on I-15, and then the other driver motioned for him to pull over before driving ahead of Monroy.
Monroy followed the man, Christopher Mortensen, off the freeway and the two stopped at a gas station near 10600 South and 160 West in Sandy. Police say Mortensen approached the driver’s side window of Monroy’s vehicle and struck the car with his hands, then Monroy pulled out a gun.
Mortensen, 42, was shot and killed by Monroy after a brief physical alteration where Mortensen tried to get the gun from Monroy.
Adam Crayk, Monroy’s attorney, said both men were fathers and good people who were engaged in behavior they should not have been and their tempers led to a tragedy.
“Both of them exhibited conduct that was inappropriate, completely inappropriate,” he said. “I get that we all make mistakes … but there’s never a reason to engage in the type of conduct that ultimately resulted in this unfortunate death.”
Crayk said the decision to accept a plea deal came down to a discrepancy in testimony between Monroy and Mortensen’s friend, who was in his truck at the time of the shooting. The two testimonies differed on key points that could determine whether Monroy needed to act in self-defense to protect himself or whether Mortensen would have just walked away if Monroy had not fired the shot.
The friend reported that Mortensen was backing away when he was shot and was “in a defensive posture” near the truck, charging documents say, and Monroy pulled the gun out because it scared him when Mortensen hit his hand against Monroy’s vehicle.
The charges also say that Monroy admitted to police that he brake-checked Mortensen and that he knew Mortensen was not armed. Crayk said, however, that Mortensen challenged Monroy and pushed into his truck.
Monroy is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 28.
Crayk said Monroy is in the United States legally but he is not a citizen. If he is sentenced to prison, he will likely not be able to remain in the country after his release.
A relative of Mortensen, who is also the attorney for the family, told KSL TV that Mortensen’s wife met with prosecutors beforehand and was satisfied with the plea deal.
“She would get some sense of justice,” Brandon Merrill said. “There isn’t the risk (of trial) and then there is also a firm ending. There will be a sentencing date. He will serve time and that’s the big thing.”
Merrill, who is also the executive director of Utah Homicide Survivors, said the plea deal takes away the trauma that the family would experience by having the case go to trial and wait years for an outcome. He also spoke of the family’s heartache as Mortensen’s wife is now raising their four children without him.
“That’s just the most difficult part about it is that this could have been prevented by multiple people on both sides,” he said. “We never will truly know all of it—even though there was a witness—we still will never truly know everything because we don’t have Chris here to say his side.”
Contributing: Ladd Egan