A Salt Lake City man who broke into his own apartment last November and fatally shot an unwanted guest was sentenced Thursday to serve up to five years in prison.
Leroy Daniel Valdez began sobbing as he apologized for his crime and said he prays every day for the man he killed.
“I know I can never fix what I’ve done,” the 35-year-old said. “I hate myself.”
Valdez was originally charged with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the Nov. 26 death of 33-year-old Kenonran Quentin Goodman. He also faced charges of obstructing justice, use of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of a controlled substance.
Valdez pleaded guilty in March to criminal homicide by assault in a deal with the prosecution, which dropped the firearm charge, both third-degree felonies and the obstructing justice and possession charges.
Valdez had turned to drugs and alcohol after discovering his father dead from an overdose in 2007, his defense attorneys said in a court brief, and his life was spinning out of control at the time of the shooting. He was using methamphetamine, his wife and children had left him and a roommate had started to bring strangers into the apartment, the brief said.
According to court documents, Valdez went armed with a .40-caliber pistol to his apartment near 1300 North and Redwood Road about 9:30 p.m. Nov. 26 to force the people inside to leave. He was locked out, so he kicked a window and then the front door to get in, the documents said.
When he entered the apartment, Valdez has said, he was grabbed by a man larger than himself, and when he tried to push him off, the gun in his right hand fired. The bullet struck Goodman, who was in the apartment that day and was not part of the group that had taken over Valdez’s home, the brief said.
A presentence report by the Division of Adult Probation and Parole recommended probation for Valdez, but Goodman’s mother-in-law, Yolanda Peckham, opposed that option.
Peckham told 3rd District Judge James Blanch that it breaks her heart to see her grandchildren without their father and Valdez doesn’t deserve to be free. And Goodman’s wife, Andrea Smith, said Valdez shouldn’t get out right away.
Blanch, noting that a life had been lost, rejected probation for the sentence and imposed two terms of zero to five years behind bars, and that the two sentences run concurrently.