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Witnesses describe details in Utah road rage murder

Published March 13, 2012 4:35 pm

Courts • Troy Williams is accused of a fatal shooting in a road-rage incident.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Morgan Taylor stopped at the red light, rolled down his window and cursed at the guy in the truck, who had just cut him off.

"Don't you know how to drive?!" he recalls saying. "What the f—- is your problem?!"

Frank Saucedo, sitting next to his friend in the passenger seat, told him to shut up.

What happened next that night in January 2008, after the light turned green and Taylor saw the truck's headlights swerve across the road, was what police and prosecutors have called a road-rage shooting that took Saucedo's life.

During a preliminary hearing Tuesday in 3rd District Court, 37-year-old Troy Warren Williams, the man arrested nearly three years later and charged with Saucedo's murder, listened to witnesses recount the details of that night.

Taylor gave Saucedo and his new girlfriend a ride to a Smith's grocery store at 980 E. 7200 South. As they pulled out of the parking lot heading west onto 7200 South, Taylor said a man in a dark Toyota Tacoma cut him off. Taylor yelled at the driver, who followed his car north on 700 East.

Layce Nielsen, Saucedo's girlfriend of three months, said the truck tried to ram their car and Taylor swerved to avoid it.

Taylor said the truck pulled up on the driver's side of his car and he saw the man reach for what he thought was a gun. So, Morgan said, he stepped on the gas pedal and swerved in front of the truck.

"After he tries to ram you, what happens next?" prosecutor Nathan Evershed asked Nielsen.

"Honestly, I just remember screaming and the glass hitting me from the window breaking," she responded.

"After the window breaks, what do you next remember?"

"Just looking up," she said, crying, "and seeing the hole in Frank's head."

At least one bullet struck Saucedo on the left side of his head, behind his ear, Chief Medical Examiner Todd Grey said. The bullet stopped at the base of Saucedo's brain.

Morgan started driving to a hospital but stopped and got the attention of a nearby sheriff's deputy, he said.

Saucedo died later in the hospital.

The investigation went cold for years — until police last year served a search warrant looking for drugs at Williams' home. Officers found a Beretta .40-caliber handgun with a missing barrel, police say. The missing barrel raised suspicions and, as they continued to investigate, detectives received information that Williams had been involved in the fatal shooting.

Cole Salgy, who said he used to purchase drugs from Williams, testified Tuesday that Williams told him the handgun had been used in a homicide. Police say Williams also owned a dark-color Toyota Tacoma at the time of the shooting.

At the end of the hearing, Williams was ordered to stand trial for first-degree felony murder, second-degree felony obstructing justice and third-degree felony discharge of a firearm. A scheduling hearing is set for March 26.

afalk@sltrib.com