A 38-year-old man was criminally charged Wednesday after police say he drunkenly ran over his wife and killed her in a Salt Lake City International Airport parking garage last week.
Shawn Sturgeon has been charged in 3rd District Court with one count of manslaughter or automobile homicide, court documents state, as well as one count of domestic violence in the presence of a child in connection with the death of Charlotte Sturgeon, 29.
A spokesperson with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office clarified Wednesday that, generally speaking, an alternative charge — like the single count of manslaughter or automobile homicide filed in Sturgeon’s case — may be considered by a jury.
“A prosecutor must prove the elements of any charged offenses, including those charged in the alternative,” the spokesperson continued.
Couple had just returned from a trip
The charging document states that Sturgeon’s blood alcohol level was 0.13% upon arrest, almost three times Utah’s legal limit, and that “prior to running over his wife and killing her, the defendant argued with his wife so loudly and viciously that it made several people in the area uncomfortable.”
According to police, the couple had just returned from a trip when they and their “small child” were in the airport’s short-term parking garage at about 2:30 p.m. on April 4.
At their car, security footage shows Shawn Sturgeon placing the child into the right-rear passenger seat of the vehicle, then getting into the driver’s seat, the charging document states.
His wife, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, then exits the car, walks to the child’s door, and opens it, the document states. That’s when Shawn Sturgeon can be seen putting the vehicle into reverse, accelerating “abruptly” and stopping, causing Charlotte Sturgeon to lose her balance.
Seconds later, with the child’s door still open, Shawn Sturgeon hit the accelerator again, the footage shows, continuing to drive in reverse. Charlotte Sturgeon was dragged by the car and fell under it, the document states.
Shawn Sturgeon then put the vehicle in drive and accelerated over his wife, leaving a tire imprint on her body. In total, police said Shawn Sturgeon drove for about 10 feet before stopping the car.
After Sturgeon struck his wife, one witness said Sturgeon came to a “screeching stop,” then got out of the car as he yelled at his wife, saying, “Are you f---ing crazy?” before saying, “Get the f--- up right now. Get off the ground and get in the car.”
Another witness told police that Sturgeon asked his wife “why she just did that,” adding, “now I have to take you to the emergency room,” before “aggressively” picking his crying wife up off the ground and pushing her toward the front passenger seat.
A third witness shouted at Sturgeon not to drive away after he ran over his wife, the document states, but Sturgeon ignored that witness and sped away.
Sturgeon then drove to the garage’s tollbooth exit, where he asked for help. When officers arrived, they found the wife in the front seat, unresponsive but breathing.
She was taken to a hospital, where she died a short time later. A medical examiner determined that her cause of death was blunt force trauma.
‘Born to be a good mother’
According to police, Sturgeon smelled of alcohol and had “glassy, bloodshot eyes.” As he was being transported to the Salt Lake City police station, he “made several spontaneous utterances,” including that he “ran my wife over,” “killed my wife” and “I accidentally ran her over,” the document states.
Sturgeon is being held in the Salt Lake County jail without bail.
Charlotte Sturgeon’s father, who lives in Albuquerque, N.M. — where she grew up — posted an obituary for his daughter on Facebook that said she “was born to be a good mother.”
”She had so much love to give and had given a lifetime’s worth in her short time with us,” the obituary reads.
Editor’s note • Those who are experiencing intimate partner violence, or know someone who is, are urged to call the Utah Domestic Violence Link Line, 1-800-897-LINK (5465), or the Utah Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line, 1-888-421-1100.