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Charges filed in decade-old drive-by killing

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13 2013 8:09 p.m. MST

Raymond Daniel Benally

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SALT LAKE CITY — Two men have been charged with murder in a drive-by killing that happened more than a decade ago.

Vincent James Thomas, who will be 32 Thursday, and Raymond Daniel Benally, 31, both were charged with first-degree murder Tuesday in 3rd District Court.

A warrant has been issued for Thomas' arrest. His address in Forrest City, Ark., is listed as unknown in charging documents.

Court records indicate Benally is currently serving out a 2007 sentence in the Utah State Prison after being convicted of attempted theft by receiving stolen property and discharging a firearm from a vehicle, among other charges.

According to the charges, police believe Benally was the driver and Thomas the shooter in the 2001 murder of Leonel Perales.

Witnesses told police they saw a gray Chevy Celebrity following a Honda Accord near 300 East and 700 South on Sept. 28, 2001, before one of the men in the Celebrity fired at the Accord, charges state.

The Accord's back window had been shot out, and two holes were located where bullets entered the rear of the vehicle and passed through the rear seat. Perales died at LDS Hospital from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the charges.

Six bullet casings from a .32 caliber handgun were located near the scene. The firearm that the state crime lab determined the shots were fired from was found Oct. 6, 2001, at 436 E. Van Ness Place, a residence Thomas was known to frequent, charges state.  

The charges filed Tuesday did not elaborate how Thomas and Benally were linked to the crime more than 10 years later.

McKenzie Romero

Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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