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Detective: Victim claimed Utah shooting prompted by missing drugs

Published May 17, 2013 6:55 pm

Courts • Vasquez is accused of killing 2, including his uncle.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Nine days after he was shot in the neck, Simon Vasquez decided to end his life.

The shooting had left him a quadriplegic, and he relied on medical treatment to stabilize his blood pressure and oxygen levels, assistant medical examiner Julie Schrader testified in 3rd District Court Friday.

"He was alive and conscious and was able to talk," Schrader testified. "But medically, he was very unstable."

Before his medical treatment was withdrawn on Aug. 13, Vasquez asked to speak to the officer investigating the shooting. So Sandy police Detective Tyson Downey went to the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

"The thing he wanted to make clear was that Alex Vasquez pulled his gun out first," Downey testified Friday. "That Alex ordered him — while holding the gun — ordered him to frisk the individuals."

Simon Vasquez died the next day. Now, 25-year-old Alex Vasquez, Simon Vasquez's nephew, is charged with murder in his uncle's death, and is accused of killing another man in the August shootout in Sandy.

A preliminary hearing began Friday for Alex Vasquez, charged in 3rd District Court with murder, aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, felony discharge of a firearm with injury, and two counts of buying, transferring or possessing a firearm by a restricted person. After more testimony on May 22, 3rd District Judge Charlene Barlow will decide whether there is enough evidence for Alex Vasquez to stand trial.

On Aug. 5, Alex Vasquez and several others — including Simon Vasquez, Cindy James and Paul Giovale — were in the garage of a Sandy home at 80 E. 8640 South.

James testified Friday that Alex Vasquez came into the garage with one man, then left and came back with two other men and a woman.

At some point, the garage door closed and Alex Vasquez pulled out a gun, according to court papers. James testified that she tried to leave with Simon Vasquez, but the armed man demanded they stay.

Downey testified that Simon Vasquez said from his hospital bed that he was ordered at gun point by his nephew to frisk everyone in the garage to look for weapons. When he went to frisk a man in front of him, the man quickly turned to face him and shots rang out.

"He couldn't recall if it was Alex or the male that shot him," Downey testified.

Charging documents allege that Alex Vasquez shot at Giovale with his .38-caliber revolver, and Giovale shot back.

Giovale, 41, was hit in the chest, neck and upper back and died at the scene; police say a bullet recovered from his body was consistent with the revolver ammunition. Simon Vasquez, 40, was hit in the neck, though the bullet recovered from his body was a .40-caliber round, according to court documents.

James also was hit but survived.

While no motive for the shooting has been offered in charging documents, Downey said Simon Vasquez told him he believed the shooting was prompted by the alleged theft of a vehicle by his nephews Andrew and Alex Vasquez. The vehicle contained a large amount of drugs, he told the detective, and when the brothers returned the car to the owner, the drugs were allegedly missing.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller