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Suspects, intended victim face charges in fatal home-invasion
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Three suspected thieves — and their intended victim — each face multiple felonies in connection with a botched home-invasion robbery that left a fourth alleged thief dead.

Geno A. Gonzales and Jose M. Mendoza, both 22, appeared in 3rd District Court Monday afternoon on charges of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery, both first-degree felonies. The men are accused of being two of the four men who tried to rob a Taylorsville man in October.

The night of Oct. 9, Gonzales, Mendoza, Nicholas T. Monte, 23, and Alfred Gomez, 34, drove to a home near 5100 S. Applewood Drive (3560 West) with the intent to rob the homeowner of drugs and money, according to charges.

The homeowner, Sergio Vargas-Martinez, 29, saw three of them approach his house — wearing bandannas and holding handguns — and heard them kick in his door, according to the charges. Vargas-Martinez grabbed his handgun and ran toward the door, the charges add.

Meanwhile, one of the home invaders held a gun to Vargas-Martinez's fiance's head, while another kicked in the bedroom door of a 15-year-old girl and held a gun to her head, as well, the charges add.

Vargas-Martinez told investigators that he saw Monte and shot him after Monte raised his own handgun, according to the charges. Wounded, Monte fled through the garage, the charges add.

After hearing the gunshots, the two men holding guns on the fiance and teenager also ran, according to charges.

Monte later died at Pioneer Valley Hospital from a gunshot wound in the chest.

Within a few days, police arrested Gonzales, Gomez and Mendoza and booked them into the Salt Lake County jail.

The charges name Gonzales, Gomez and Monte as the ones who allegedly broke into the home, while Mendoza was allegedly the driver. Gomez faces the same aggravated burglary and robbery charges as Mendoza and Gonzales, but Gomez has a third-degree felony aggravated assault tacked on, as well.

Meanwhile, a Unified police detective searched Vargas-Martinez's home and found a marijuana growing operation, a handgun and $1,640 in cash, according to the charges. The homeowner told police, after waiving his Miranda rights, that he threw away his marijuana plants, disconnected the cultivation operation, patched the bullet holes and threw away the casings after shooting Monte.

Vargas-Martinez was charged with knowingly manufacturing a controlled substance, having a firearm as a restricted person and obstructing justice, all third-degree felonies. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 9.

Gonzalez has a bond hearing scheduled for Dec. 16.

Mendoza, who pleaded not guilty, has a bond hearing set for on Dec. 16, and a preliminary hearing set for Jan. 2, according to the court docket. No one other than Mendoza has entered a plea, according to court records.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda

Court • Police say homeowner shot and killed intruder after home invasion goes awry.
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