Man accused of throwing deadly punch at Salt Lake City homeless camp

Salt Lake City Police vehicle. File photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah May 29, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A man described by Salt Lake City police as homeless is behind bars more than a week after police say he punched another man and ultimately killed him.

According to court papers, an argument started at a homeless camp near 235 S. Rio Grande St. on May 17.

Police say 46-year-old Juan Ayala approached the victim, punched him in the face and ran away when the man he punched fell to the ground unconscious.

The victim was rushed to a hospital where he died four days later. The medical examiner determined the cause of death was “homicide due to blunt force injury to the head.”

In a filing to the court, the arresting officer says Ayala was found and taken into custody on the evening of Friday, May 28.

The officer says Ayala admitted hitting the man, but said it was in self-defense because the victim was making possible threats toward him. The officer also says Ayala told him he did not mean for the victim to die.

Court documents show the officer is asking a judge to deny bail because Ayala is “likely to flee the jurisdiction of the court” and would “constitute a substantial danger” to other people or the community.

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