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Architect’s Killer Gets 15 Years

Monday, July 21, 2014

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A property manager who beat his well-known architect boss to death will spend 15 years to life in California state prison for the crime.

Higinio Soriano Salgado, 32, was sentenced July 8 by San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Weber for killing international architect Graham Downes in April 2013.

Salgado was found guilty April 24 of second-degree murder after a trial that lasted nearly two weeks.

Upset over Work

Downes was found unconscious April 19, 2013, in front of his home in San Diego. He suffered severe head injuries and died two days later at a local hospital.

Graham Downes
Photos: Graham Downes Architecture Inc.

International architect Graham Downes was found unconscious April 19, 2013, in front of his San Diego home. He died two days later.

Police found Salgado lying next to him, uninjured. No weapons were found. Salgado was arrested April 19 on attempted-murder charges. He pleaded not guilty.

According to local news outlets, Salgado was a property manager employed by Downes' architecture firm, and the altercation happened after a social gathering of several employees. Salgado was last to leave the event, and a "work-related" argument escalated into a physical fight, police told reporters at the time.

Prosecutors alleged that Salgado felt his job was threatened and was upset that Downes might rehire a former supervisor whom he disliked.

Alcohol 'No Excuse'

Downes suffered 17 to 21 impact injuries to his neck and head, some of which were consistent with strangulation, a doctor testified.

Salgado's defense attorney argued that with an estimated blood-alcohol level of 0.22 to 0.24 percent, his client was “virtually unconscious” and should not be held fully responsible for his actions.

However, the prosecution argued that “blackout drunks” were still capable of making decisions and that Salgado's condition could not be used to excuse the crime.

Apology to Family

"How you committed these beatings, I will never understand," the judge said, according to NBCSanDiego.com. "But I do want it to be clear in this community: Alcohol will not be an excuse for a killing."

Downes' 25 years of work included many hotels, such as The Padre Hotel (pictured) in Bakersfield, CA.

At the sentencing hearing, Salgado addressed the victim's family.

"I still don't know what happened that night. I can assure you that the thought of harming Graham never, ever crossed my mind, Salgado said."

"I truly admired Graham and saw him as a mentor and friend. He was a great man ... I know God is watching over him in heaven."

Supporters of both Salgado and Downes crowded the hearing, reports said.

Decades of Projects

The 56-year-old architect, whose true name was Downes Graham Trouncer, was the principal and founder of Graham Downes Architecture Inc., a firm renowned for its retail, hospitality, entertainment and urban mixed-use projects.

Downes’ design portfolio spans more than 25 years and includes projects abroad.

Among his works are the San Diego Hard Rock Hotel; Shelter Island's Bali Hai restaurant; Tower 23 Hotel; Tom Ham’s Lighthouse; and Hard Rock Hotel Nuevo Vallarta.

The company has laid off workers and begun the process of shutting down, Alix Veen, the executor of Downes' estate, told the court.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Criminal acts; Designers; Fatalities

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