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Jury selected in Downes murder trial

Graham Downes

Jury selection ended Thursday in San Diego Superior Court, paving the way for the trial of the man accused of killing well-known San Diego architect Graham Downes nearly a year ago.

The trial of Higinio Soriano Salgado, 32, will begin Monday with opening statements. Jury selection began Wednesday.

Salgado has been in custody for nearly a year and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. He is accused of killing Downes during a fight in the early hours of April 19.

Police say Salgado, who was a property manager at Graham Downes Architecture at the time, was the last of many guests at a work-related social gathering at Downes' home in Bankers Hill.

When police responded to calls from neighbors, Salgado was present and said he had no injuries, police homicide Lt. Jorge Duran said. Downes was given two rounds of epinephrine to restore his pulse and was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital. He was pronounced brain-dead April 21 and removed from life support two days later.

An autopsy released in June concluded that Downes died of brain damage from a lack of oxygen caused by blunt force head and neck trauma. He died with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.23 — nearly three times the legal driving limit — with no other drugs found in his system.

According to police accounts of statements from people at the gathering, both Downes and Salgado had been drinking alcohol earlier in the evening. Downes, 56, was just over 6 feet tall and weighed 259 pounds, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Salgado is 5 feet, 5 inches tall, and weighs 320 pounds.

Downes designed several San Diego landmarks and hot spots, including the Hard Rock Hotel, R Gang Kitchen, Bali Hai Restaurant and Tom Ham's Lighthouse.

Deputy San Diego County District Attorney Amy Maund is handling the prosecution; Salgado is represented by attorney Jose Badillo of Jose G. Badillo Law Office. Monday's proceedings are scheduled for 9:15 a.m. in Department 58 of the downtown San Diego Central Courthouse.


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