SALT LAKE CITY — A former Washington Terrace man convicted of attempted murder had his appeal rejected by a state court Oct. 4.
The Utah Court of Appeals rejected the appeal in the case of John Edward Gallegos, 27, according to the court’s opinion.
In 2015, a jury deliberated for roughly 90 minutes before they found Gallegos guilty of first-degree felony attempted murder.
Gallegos also was found guilty of misdemeanor counts and two other felony charges: assault by prisoner and possession of a weapon by a restricted person, both third-degree felonies.
A judge sentenced him to serve nine years to life in prison. A typical attempted murder charge carries a five to life sentence, but Gallegos was convicted under a gang enhancement.
Gallegos was convicted of stabbing a man multiple times on April 16, 2011, in the parking lot of the Weber County Library on Jefferson Avenue. The victim was attacked after he approached what turned out to be multiple gang-members spray-painting graffiti on the restrooms by the library parking lot in Lester Park. He was arrested shortly thereafter.
While in police custody, he kicked and spit on an officer’s face before making a hole in the wall of an interview room.
Gallegos argued in his appeal that he had ineffective counsel for not motioning to sever the stabbing and police station charges. He also argued that police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop him the night he was arrested.
After the attack, police were told to be on the lookout for Hispanic men in a Toyota Camry wearing white jerseys after a witness told police that’s what the assailants were wearing when they sped away from a dead-end street nearby. Later, a Toyota Camry was seen driving back onto the street, prompting a police officer to investigate.
An officer arrived at the dead-end street and saw a parked Toyota Camry with a man standing nearby. The man — who was Gallegos — told the officer he was about to leave for a friend’s house.
The officer asked Gallegos if he was in a gang, to which he responded yes. Gallegos allowed the officer to search him, and the officer found a folding knife. Because Gallegos was intoxicated, the officer took the knife and said Gallegos could get it back at the police station once he was sober.
The officer later returned to the scene of the stabbing and was told the initial description of the attackers wearing white clothing was wrong, and they were instead wearing dark clothing. When the officer inspected the knife he just took, he found blood on the blade, and Gallegos was arrested shortly after.
Last week, the court of appeals reaffirmed Gallegos’ convictions, adding that his appeal lacked details of the case.
Judge David Mortensen wrote the opinion, saying the appeal did not explain how the totality of evidence against him would alter the outcome of the trial. The opinion said that the appeal did not “squarely confront the majority of the evidence supporting the verdict.”
The appeal motion did not acknowledge that the victim’s blood was found on Gallegos’ knife, shirt, pants and ear, the opinion said.
The court ruled that the jury trial would not have been altered if Gallegos’ counsel would have presented the motions stated in his appeal.
As to the question of “reasonable suspicion,” the court ruled that the officer had the ability to search Gallegos because he was seen standing near a Toyota Camry on the same dead-end street from which a witness saw the suspects flee.
As a result of the rejected appeal, Gallegos will continue to remain in the custody of the Utah Department of Corrections. As of Friday evening, he is serving his sentence at the Cache County Jail, according to UDOC records.
Gallegos is scheduled for a parole hearing in 2024, according to the Board of Pardons.