Sandy police: Suspect admits ‘having issues’ with 17-year-old boy killed in drive-by shooting; 2 held on $2M bail

James Edward Smith, 19, Emmanuel Augustus Espinoza, 20, and Dina Marie Smith, 58. Photos: Salt Lake County

SANDY, Utah, May 23, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Court documents have revealed new details after Friday’s fatal drive-by shooting of a 17-year-old Sandy resident and the arrest of two young men and one of their mothers in connection with the case.

Charged in the case are Emmanuel Augustus Espinoza, 20, James Edward Smith, 19, and Dina Marie Smith, 58.

Espinoza and James Smith face identical charges of criminal homicide, a first-degree felony and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. For each, bail is set at $2 million.

Dina Smith is charged with obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. Her bail is set at $25,000.

The juvenile victim is identified in court papers as H.W.

On Friday, officers responded to a call of shots fired, the probable cause statement says. The statements filed for James Smith and Espinoza are identical in wording.

According to the statements, officers arrived in the 1100 block of E. Sapphire Drive, in Sandy just after 11 a.m.

“It was reported that a green Ford Explorer had driven past this address,” says the statement, filed by an officer of the Sandy Police Department. “The vehicle had minor damage to the passenger side and a sticker in the tinted window. Someone inside the vehicle had fired rounds at the home located at the aforementioned address.

“Several rounds impacted the home. One round struck the victim H.W. in the chest. The victim passed away from injuries sustained from the gun shot.”

The suspect vehicle was identified by a witness and was located, the statement says.

“While interviewing the owner of the vehicle, a male matching the description of the driver later identified as James Smith (07/29/2000) approached the officers. He was taken into custody.”

The statement says that, post Miranda, James Smith said he had driven the vehicle to the home of H.W.

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“James Smith stated that he had been having issues with the victim H.W. He said that he called a friend that he later identified as Gemine Eassy.”

It was discovered later that “Gemine Eassy”‘s real name was Emmanuel Espinoza.

“James stated that he picked up Gemine at his residence,” the statement says. “They then drove to the victim’s home.

“James stated that he did not know what Gemine was going to do. He stated that the victim came outside and as James drove past the home, Gemine fired a gun from the back seat. James stated that they then fled the area. James stated that he took Gemine back to his home and dropped him off.”

Smith, who police say was captured on doorbell cameras fleeing the scene of the shooting,  then returned to the Discovery Inn in Midvale, where he had been staying with his mother, Dina Smith.

“Warrants were served on the vehicle and the hotel room. Evidence supporting the case was located during both searches.”

The statement does not say whether Espinoza declined to speak to police, but it also does not refer to anything he may have said.

A probable cause statement filed for Dina Smith says evidence led police to her workplace, where they attempted to conduct an interview.

“Police interviewed Smith, who lied about her whereabouts and lied about not being with her son, one of the suspects in the criminal homicide. Post Miranda warning, Smith continued to lie to police about her whereabouts and the whereabouts of the suspect vehicle after video surveillance evidence proves the vehicle was not where she claimed it to be.”

Gephardt Daily will update this story as more information is made available.


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