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Fatal stabbing, possible murder-suicide cap off violent weekend for police

Homicide caps off violent weekend in Salt Lake County

Published: Monday, Nov. 5 2012 5:23 p.m. MST

Police leave the home where two bodies were found Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Syracuse.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

TAYLORSVILLE — A man with a history of domestic violence against his 63-year-old stepfather stabbed the man to death early Monday, according to police.

The fatal stabbing capped off what was an exceptionally violent weekend along the Wasatch Front.

From Friday afternoon through early Monday, three people were fatally shot, one fatally stabbed, one hit and killed in an auto-pedestrian accident, two were injured in shootings, and an eighth person was injured in a stabbing. Plus, a Syracuse couple died under suspicious circumstances in their home Monday in what may be a murder-suicide.

None of the incidents appear to be related.

"It happens sometimes," Salt Lake Police Sgt. Shawn Josephson said of the unusual number of weekend cases. "Usually it's spread out a little bit more, but when you have a weekend like this, it raises extra concern to everybody."

One of the latest deaths occurred early Monday when Unified police received a report of a stabbing at 2141 W. Rebecca Ann Circle (6570 South) just after 3 a.m. Officers arrived within two minutes of the 911 call, which was made by another person inside the house, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.

When police arrived, they spotted Doneral Dalton, 30, running out of the back of the house. Officers gave chase through a field and caught him about a block away.

Inside the house, John L. Palm had been stabbed multiple times with a kitchen knife.

"Initially, he's able to speak for a short period of time, says his stepson stabbed him," Hoyal said.

Palm's condition quickly deteriorated, however. He was taken to a local hospital in extremely critical condition and died a short time later.

Dalton told detectives that Palm had "confronted him and ordered him to leave the residence," according to a Salt Lake County Jail report. He claimed Palm had a knife and "during a struggle, (Palm) was stabbed with the knife several times."

Palm's body was found in the living room, Hoyal said.

The stepson and stepfather had a history of domestic violence. According to Utah court records, Dalton was charged last month in Taylorsville Justice Court with domestic violence-related assault. Palm was also the alleged victim in that case.

In 2004, Palm was granted a protective order by a 3rd District Court judge, claiming cohabitant abuse from Dalton.

Court records show Dalton also has a history of assault, theft and shoplifting charges.

Investigators weren't sure whether the stepson lived in the house with his mother and stepfather or if he just stayed there off and on, Hoyal said.

Also this weekend:

• A Syracuse couple was found dead inside their home at 2125 W. 903 South, about 8 a.m. Monday. The bodies of Gary and Jessica Lucero were discovered inside a room.

Police were originally called to the house by a family member of one of the victims. Detectives were sent to investigate a possible dead man. They arrived to find two bodies in what may be a possible murder-suicide. Police called the deaths "suspicious" but released few details, including how the two died.

"Officers made entry into the home and upon entry, we found a second deceased," said Syracuse Police Lt. Tracy Jensen. "Everything happened inside this house. Nothing left this house."

Neighbors said the Luceros were well-known and respected in the community. Gary Lucero was known for his love of youth and youth sports. He and his wife headed up a youth lacrosse league, the Syracuse Snipers.

"They brought the neighborhood together, always having parties and stuff. They were just fun people to be around," said neighbor Skylee Rogers. "It's just heartbreaking."

• Danielle Willard, 21, was shot and killed by undercover West Valley police officers conducting an investigation Friday afternoon. Police have declined to release details about the shooting or the circumstances that led to it. Willard's family said she had a heroin addiction, but the family has questions about what prompted officers to fire.

• Joshua Pratt Hooper, 24, was accidentally shot and killed Saturday in Manning Canyon in the Oquirrh Mountains in west Utah County. Hooper was target shooting with family members when the accident happened. Police have not released details, saying only that "a person who was preparing to take a shot had an 'unexpected incident' and accidentally shot one of the other members of the group."

• Bhutari Bhattarai, 39, of South Salt Lake, was hit and killed by a car while crossing 300 East at 2763 South on Saturday night.

• Ann Marie Jensen, 43, was found dead of a gunshot wound in her apartment, 2389 S. 300 East, in South Salt Lake early Sunday. An autopsy determined that she was shot "more than once in the upper body," said police spokesman Gary Keller.

The case was being treated as a homicide. Police had no leads on a suspect or motive.

• Travis Lorenzo Heath, 30, was arrested Sunday morning for investigation of attempted murder, aggravated assault and domestic violence in the presence of a child after West Jordan police say he choked and then stabbed his wife during an argument at their home near 9100 South and 4800 West.

Police say he choked the woman to the point where she couldn't breathe and then threatened her with a knife. She was treated at the hospital for superficial, defensive-type stab wounds. The couple's three children were in the home during the incident.

• A 19-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman were shot Sunday while sitting in a vehicle parked behind a closed coffee shop near 602 E. 2100 South. They went to a nearby gas station seeking help. Their injuries were not life-threatening. The search for the alleged shooter or shooters continued Monday.

Contributing: Mike Anderson

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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