Man sentenced for role in Salt Lake love triangle murder

Published: Friday, April 27 2012 6:56 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A man accused of taking part in a love-triangle killing was ordered to prison Friday.

Jose Allan Gallegos-Mendoza, 26, was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison for manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the shooting death of Juan Jose Rubio-Navaro, 32, who was gunned down in his driveway on June 24, 2010.

Rubio-Navaro was sitting in his driveway at 545 N. New Star Drive waiting for a ride to work when a car drove by carrying two passengers who fired multiple shots. Rubio-Navaro died from two gunshot wounds to his chest. Prosecutors say Jose Adrian Rodriguez-Ramirez, sitting in the passenger seat, fired the fatal shots while Gallegos-Mendoza drove.

Gallegos-Mendoza's attorney, Clayton Simms, emphasized that his client was not the shooter and added that Gallegos-Mendoza is not a gang member and has no prior criminal history.

"There is a little bit of minimization (in pre-sentence reports), but I think that's really just a coping mechanism," Simms said. "He was really just the driver in this."

Simms asked for a year in jail to be followed by deportation. He then quoted a statement from his client: "I will always ask God for forgiveness. I just wish this had never happened. This day is always in my mind."

Both Gallegos-Mendoza and Rodriguez-Ramirez have said the other man fired the revolver they apparently later dumped in a canal. But Rodriguez-Ramirez told police he was in love with Rubio-Navaro's wife, Maria Marta Campusano, and wanted to marry her.

Rodriguez-Ramirez, 27, pleaded guilty to murder, a first-degree felony, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Campusano, 25, was charged with obstruction of justice in connection with her husband's death, as police say she not only lied about having an affair, but also kept them from getting information on her lover by saying she didn't have his phone number and hadn't talked to him in six months. A jury, however, determined she was not guilty.

Rubio-Navaro's brother, Jose Raul, repeatedly asked the judge through a translator that justice be served in his brother's death and said he does not believe that Gallegos-Mendoza was merely the driver.

"He knew what was going to happen," Jose Raul Rubio-Navaro said." He knew about the gun. ... The people that did this thing are laughing. They are mocking justice. ... I want to ask you to help so we can find closure."

Prosecutor Yelena Ayrapetova asked for a prison sentence and said there is evidence that showed that Gallegos-Mendoza "participated knowingly and willingly" in the shooting. She pointed to the matching clothes Rodriguez-Ramirez and Gallego-Mendoza wore, the fact that they borrowed a car and disposed of the murder weapon.

"They did everything together," she said. "This was a planned and knowing act."

Gallegos-Mendoza apologized to the court and insisted that he was there the day of the shooting, but that he wasn't "there with that intention."

"There is not a single day I don't think about this," he said. "I wish it didn't happen. I wish I didn't drive the car. ... I feel miserable. I feel broken."

Gallegos-Mendoza, who was originally charged with murder, a first-degree felony, pleaded guilty to the second-degree felony manslaughter charge in February.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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