Update: 2 more arrested in connection with fatal shooting in Taylorsville

Unified Police are investigating a fatal shooting at the Atherton Park Apartments in Taylorsville late Friday night, June 4, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah, June 22, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Two more individuals have been arrested after a fatal shooting in Taylorsville June 4.

A probable cause statement from the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake City said Lehi Alexander Morantes, 26, is facing charges of:

  • Murder, a first-degree felony
  • Obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony
  • Possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a second-degree felony
  • 5 charges of felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony

Meanwhile, Danielle Jordan Valdez, 23, is facing a charge of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.

The probable cause statements for Morantes and Valdez, which are identical, said that just after 11:30 p.m. on June 4, officers responded to the Atherton Park Apartments, at 4545 Atherton Drive, on an assault with a weapon call. Witnesses reported multiple shots fired.

The first officer on scene said she saw a man on the ground bleeding profusely in front of one of the buildings. He had been shot in the upper torso, the statements said. The man, later identified as Joey Michael Duran, 30, was transported to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray and died shortly after.

Two apartments in the building, on the second and third floors, had been struck by bullets, and five empty casings were found outside a second floor apartment. There were also several empty casings on the grass about 20 feet away from the victim, the statements said. No firearms were located.

The officer went to the apartment on the second floor that the casings were found outside, but no one answered the door. The officer then tried the door knob and found the door was unlocked. She opened the door, and announced herself, and a woman, later identified as a third suspect, Sofia Penrod, 21, came from a back bedroom.

“Sofia said that she did not know what was going on and there was no one else was in the apartment,” the statements said.

Witnesses reported to the officer that they saw a gray pickup truck speed away from the area shortly after the shooting. Police records showed that Morantes lived in the apartment that Penrod had been found in and that he had been cited for a traffic violation in a gray Nissan truck. The apartment was registered to Valdez, who was later determined to be Morantes’ girlfriend.

A search warrant was obtained for the apartment; detectives located handgun ammunition which matched the casings found outside the apartment door.

“During the investigation, an interview was conducted with Sofia Penrod who informed Joey came over to the apartment where she was staying in order to confront her regarding the death of his friend, Miguel ‘Nolo’ Marquez, that he thought she was a part of,” the statements said. Marquez died in a crash in the intersection of California Avenue and Redwood Road May 27.

“Sofia stated she heard several people outside, and Lehi went out to tell them to leave,” the statements added. “While outside, Sofia said she heard Lehi in a confrontation with Joey, followed by several gunshots. She stated Lehi never came back into the home. Sofia said she knew Lehi always carried a handgun in his waistband and he’d even let her hold it several weeks prior.”

Penrod also said that Valdez was on scene at the time of the shooting, and that after the incident, Valdez came into the apartment, retrieved two small children and left. Penrod said Valdez told her Morantes shot the victim before leaving, the statements said.

During the investigation, detectives learned Valdez and Morantes fled Utah and traveled to California. After several weeks, they returned to Utah and on Monday, Morantes and Valdez were located by investigators and taken into custody. They were subsequently transported to the Salt Lake County Jail, where they are being held without bail.

The weapon used in the crime has not been located.

Penrod initially was arrested on suspicion of murder, a first-degree felony; and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. She was later officially charged with obstruction of justice, but not murder.

Her probable cause statement said: “During the interview with Sofia, she was caught in numerous lies and changed her story. Her initial story was she was at the apartment babysitting for her half-sister, she woke up to gunshots and she had no idea what had occurred.

“Sofia eventually admitted to knowing Joey Duran and reported she met him once and he is her cousin. She referred to Joey as his street moniker, ‘Suspect.'”

Penrod was also booked into the Salt Lake County Jail, and is being held without bail.


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