Man who shot Utah football player Aaron Lowe pleads guilty to murder

Buk Mawut Buk pleaded guilty to a felony murder charge Monday.

Jaime R. Carrero| Special to The Tribune Photographs commemorating the life and achievements of University of Utah cornerback Aaron Marquez Lowe are displayed in the foyer of the Family Cathedral of Faith in Mesquite Texas where his funeral took place. Lowe was shot at an after game party on September 26, 2021 in Salt Lake City.

A man has pleaded guilty to shooting and killing Utah football player Aaron Lowe and injuring another person at a Salt Lake City party in 2021.

Buk Mawut Buk, now 25, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder and first-degree attempted felony murder Monday.

Buk’s sentencing is scheduled for April 29. The murder charge carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

“This act of violence shook the Salt Lake County community when it happened,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement. “Mr. Lowe was not only a well-known star athlete at the University of Utah, but he was a beloved friend, son, and brother. Though perfect justice would mean that Mr. Lowe was alive, and the other victim did not have to live with injuries that will last a lifetime, we hope this conviction helps the loved ones of Mr. Lowe and the second victim feel they have received some measure of justice.”

Gill said his office worked with Lowe’s family on the guilty plea.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) The family of Aaron Lowe, including his mother Donna Lowe-Stern, Lowe’s older brother, Christopher Jackson and Lowe’s sister Davetta Jones weep as Lowe is remembered Saturday. For the first time in school history, the University of Utah has officially retired the No. 22 in its football program. The designation happened during the UtesÕ game against UCLA at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Retiring No. 22 honors two players who have lost their lives in the past year, running back Ty Jordan, who died Dec. 25 and defensive back Aaron Lowe, who died Sept. 26.

Lowe’s mother, Donna Lowe-Stern, said she spoke with prosecutors and agreed to take the death penalty off the table. But Lowe-Stern said she now believes the plea deal was not enough and that she feels like she “lost.”

“I agreed to [the guilty plea] because it was taking so long to get to trial. Now I feel like I lost,” Lowe-Stern told The Salt Lake Tribune. “Because 15 [years] to life is really no time for him killing my child.

“When I took the death penalty off the table, in my mind I had that he was going to get life without parole,” she continued. “Because he shot two people … that is what I was thinking. But then, after they explained everything to me, this is what I got. Yes, it hurts. But I just don’t want him to ever get out of jail. And I don’t know how I’m going to do that.”

Buk shot Lowe and 20-year-old Fuamoli Pomale outside of a party in September 2021, according to police. There had been multiple fights at the party that night and the host was kicking out guests, court documents say. Buk, Lowe and other men got into an argument in front of Lowe’s car and Pomale tried to stop it, according to the charging documents. Police said Buk walked across the street and started shooting.

Lowe, 21, was shot multiple times and died at the scene. Pomale was also shot multiple times, but survived after being in critical condition.

Buk Mawut Buk appears remotely for court on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Buk has pleaded guilty to murder in the shooting death of University of Utah football player Aaron Lowe.

Buk was originally charged with aggravated murder, possession of a firearm by a restricted person, attempted aggravated murder and obstruction of justice. Those original charges carried a possible death penalty.

While an aggravated murder charge can mean a sentence of life without parole, the charge to which Buk has pleaded guilty carries a sentence of 15 years to life. That ultimately leaves how long Buk serves in the hands of the Utah State Board of Pardons and Parole.

“There is a possibility he will be free. He could have a life. My son can’t have a life,” Lowe-Stern said. “So either way it goes, it will look like he won. It’s like he won, because if he serves for 20 years and becomes free, he’s still a young man. He will still have a chance at a life. My baby [doesn’t] get that chance.”

Lowe-Stern said she will be part of the sentencing process in April. She will speak to Buk directly there.

“I just need to let the young man know what he took from us,” she said. “You took a young man that had a whole life ahead of him. He was a good son, good student. He was just a good person overall. He had a lot of life left. He took away things from Aaron that Aaron dreamed of. He dreamed of finishing college, dreamed of going to the NFL. He dreamed of having a family. He dreamed of a lot of things this young man took from him. Took from me. I will never have grandkids. I will never see him cross the stage [at graduation]. He took a lot from me.”

She said the guilty plea did not help bring any closure to Lowe’s death because she will be “sitting on pins and needles wanting to know how much time he is going to have to serve before his parole.”

“I’m just praying at least 40 to 50 years he will be locked up in the system,” she said. “Hopefully on just Aaron’s [felony murder charge] they will keep him 30 at least.”

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