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Inmate extradited to Utah to face murder charge

Published November 20, 2013 8:04 pm

Crime • Gang member held in jail on $1 million bail.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

A federal prison inmate has been extradited to Utah to face a murder charge for a September 2001 slaying.

Salt Lake City police said Vincent James Thomas, 32, was being held Wednesday at the Salt Lake County jail on $1 million bail.

Thomas, who had been held in a Wisconsin federal prison, is suspected of killing 25-year-old Leonel Perales on Sept. 28, 2001.

Salt Lake County prosecutors allege that Raymond Daniel Benally, 32, who also has been charged with first-degree felony murder, drove a gold Chevy while Thomas fired a gun during the shooting that killed Perales.

Prosecutors allege Benally was regularly the chauffeur for Thomas, his fellow gang member. Several witnesses saw a Chevy following a Honda Accord near 300 East and 700 South just prior to the fatal episode, according to a preliminary hearing held last week in 3rd District Court. Four blocks later, a male in the Chevy fired several times at the Accord.

A police officer found the Accord stopped near 680 E. Coatsville Ave. (1790 South) with Perales inside, wounded. The back window of the Accord was shattered and two bullets had gone through the rear passenger seats.

Perales was taken to the hospital but died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Perales was a member of a rival gang, police have said. It was not clear whether the shooting was gang-related.

The weapon was linked to Thomas after police received information that he had fired several rounds of his .32-caliber handgun at a BMW shortly before the homicide, and police located the handgun at a Salt Lake City residence Thomas was known to frequent.

Thomas is scheduled to make his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon in 3rd District Court.

jstecklein@sltrib.com

Twitter @sltribjanelle