A man accused of assaulting a Salt Lake policeman by biting him on the arm has submitted to taking an AIDS test.
Police officers were expected Wednesday to escort John Isaac Gallegos, 23, to the Salt Lake City/County Board of Health for a blood draw. It will take 10 days to get results of the AIDS test, a board spokeswoman said.Gallegos, who is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail, appeared Tuesday before 3rd Circuit Judge Michael Hutchings, who was prepared to sign a search warrant if Gallegos didn't voluntarily agree to the AIDS test. Gallegos, however, submitted to being tested, waiving his statutory right of confidentiality.
Greg Skordas, Salt Lake County deputy attorney, said the test results are necessary to support a charge of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, which was filed against Gallegos following an incident that occurred Aug. 9 at 771 S. Second East. Gallegos faces a hearing Sept. 6 before Hutchings.
A criminal complaint filed in 3rd Circuit Court alleges Gallegos bit officer Dave Cracroft on the upper right arm while the officer was trying to arrest him in connection with a burglary. After Cracroft pulled free from the bite, Gallegos "remarked that he had just given the officer AIDS. (Gallegos) admitted to being exposed to the AIDS virus within the past six months," according to the complaint.
But defense attorney James Valdez says his client does not have AIDS and that Gallegos only said he did because he was mad at the way the officers were treating him.
If tests show Gallegos does not have AIDS, Skordas said he will likely have to lessen the charge to assault on a peace officer, a class A misdemeanor. Gallegos is already charged with assault on a peace officer for allegedly striking Cracroft's partner, officer Paul Gardiner. Gallegos also faces burglary and assault charges in connection with the incident to which the officers were dispatched.
A negative AIDS test on Gallegos would mean peace of mind for Cracroft. Since the attack, he has had to undergo AIDS testing and has had to act as though he has the disease, taking special precautions to avoid spreading it to his family.
Cracroft was upset over a recent Utah law that forbids the state or county health departments from disclosing whether a person is infected with AIDS. "I'm mad because it seems the state is giving this guy all kinds of rights and I don't have any," Cracroft said last week.
Jerry Mendez, the detective who filed the charges, was seeking attempted murder charges against Gallegos. But Skordas said that charge would be hard to support because there would be little evidence Gallegos intended to kill the officer. "Biting someone, even if you know you have AIDS, is not the same as shooting someone with a gun, which you know is likely to kill," Skordas explained.