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A Salt Lake City man accused of breaking into his own apartment and fatally shooting a man will stand trial on manslaughter and other charges, a Utah judge ordered Monday.
Leroy Daniel Valdez, 34, is charged in 3rd District Court with the second-degree felony charge in connection with the Nov. 26, 2016 shooting of Kenonran Quentin Goodman. He also faces charges of obstructing justice, use of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of a controlled substance.
After hearing preliminary testimony on Monday, 3rd District Judge James Blanch ordered Valdez to stand trial on all counts, according to court records. Valdez is expected to enter a plea to the charges on March 31.
Valdez's cousin, Isaac Barela, testified that his family member called him on the day of the shooting and told him that he had been threatened by some men that his roommate had been bringing over to his apartment.
"Leroy told them, 'You guys better be out of my house by the time I get home,' " Barela recalled. "... He just wanted his house back, pretty much. He felt like he was getting pushed out of his house."
Barela said he drove his cousin to the home, near 1300 N. Redwood Road, at about 9:30 p.m. and accompanied Valdez as he knocked on his front door. He knocked, Valdez recalled, because he didn't have a house key with him. When no one answered, Valdez went to a bedroom window and began knocking on the glass until the window broke.
Valdez then returned to the front door, Barela testified, and began knocking hard, yelling, "Let me in my house!" Eventually, Valdez kicked the door open.
Valdez told police that when he entered the apartment, he was grabbed by a man larger than himself. He said that when he tried to push the man off of him with both hands, a gun in his right hand went off, and the man fell to the floor, charges state.
Barela testified that he did not have a good memory of what happened after the single shot was fired, and didn't remember seeing a gun in his cousin's hand outside the home.
"I remember we were just like 'What the hell happened?' That was it," he said. "I blacked out a little bit from it being so close. All I remember is hearing ringing in my ears. I seen the flash of the gun and that was it."
Valdez's upstairs neighbors testified Monday of hearing an argument outside the duplex before hearing the shooting.
Mario Martinez Jr. said he heard his neighbor yelling "Open the door!" and soon after, the single gunshot. His father testified that his family heard arguing, and huddled in the kitchen in fear of another shot being fired, and possibly coming through the ceiling into their unit.
"When I saw them fighting outside, I thought of my family right away," Mario Martinez Sr. said through an interpreter. "It was very fast. It happened very fast."
When officers arrived at the apartment, they found Goodman dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
After the shooting, Valdez ran to a neighboring apartment complex, where he placed the gun under the seat of a vehicle, charges state. He later turned himself in to police. When officers searched his clothes, charges state, they found a small baggie containing methamphetamine.