Man charged with murder in Salt Lake City shooting over a cigarette

A second suspect remains jailed pending charges.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Police at the scene of a shooting at Wasatch Inn, on State Street in the Ballpark neighborhood of Salt Lake City, on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.

A 60-year-old man has been charged with shooting another man in the head and killing him after the two argued over a cigarette outside a Salt Lake City motel.

Joseph Marquez has been charged in 3rd District Court with murder, possession of a gun by a restricted person and obstruction of justice, all felonies. According to the charging documents, Marquez is “subject to an enhanced penalty” because “on at least two previous occasions,” he was convicted of violent felonies — burglary and robbery. In both cases, Marquez was sentenced to 1-15 years in prison and later paroled.

At about 10 a.m. on Oct. 11, police responded to a report of a shooting at the Wasatch Inn at 1416 S. State Street. When officers arrived, they found Nickolas Parks, 38, in the parking lot with a gunshot wound to the head, according to a probable cause statement. He was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

Parks’ girlfriend told police that the two of them were staying at the Wasatch Inn, and that she left their room to see if she could find someone to give her a cigarette. According to the charging documents, the woman said she knocked on the door of Marquez’s room, and he called her a “bitch” and the two argued.

Parks heard the argument and went outside, according to his girlfriend. The two went to another room, where the occupant shared a cigarette. A short time later, Marquez pounded on the door of that motel room and demanded they come out. According to the girlfriend, she heard Marquez talking on the phone with a 71-year-old man, calling him by name and telling him to “bring the heat.”

When she and Parks left the room, Marquez continued to argue with them, and Parks and Marquez pushed each other, she told police. When she and Parks turned around to walk away, Marquez shot Parks in the head, she said.

According to the charges, security video shows a car pull up to the curb across the street from the motel before the shooting, and the 71-year-old man “appeared to hand Marquez something from a white bag” before getting out of the car and walking to the motel. That video shows Marquez put what appears to be a gun in his pocket, and then pull a gun out of his pocket and shoot Parks.

According to police, the surveillance footage also shows the 71-year-old man and Marquez walk away from the motel at the same time after the shooting. Marquez got into the car with that man, who drove away.

As detectives processed the scene of the shooting, the 71-year-old man drove back to the motel and was arrested. The man told police he dropped Marquez off at 1300 S. Main St; Marquez was later found at the man’s apartment near 300 East and 600 South.

According to police, Marquez asked detectives what charges Parks would face. Told he wouldn’t be facing charges, Marquez said, “Oh, so he’s getting a free pass then, the charging documents state.

When the detective told Marquez that Parks was gravely injured, Marquez said, “That’s his [expletive] fault. He shouldn’t have been acting like such a tough guy,” the documents state. Parks later died at a hospital.

Marquez is being held without bail in the Salt Lake County jail.

The 71-year-old man is also being held without bail for investigation of murder, obstruction of justice and possession and transfer of a weapon by a restricted person. As of Tuesday morning, he had not been formally charged. The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not name suspects unless they have been charged with a crime.