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Downes' killer sentenced to 15 years to life

The man convicted of killing prominent San Diego architect Graham Downes in April 2013 was sentenced Tuesday to serve 15 years to life in state prison.

Higinio Soriano Salgado, 32, has been in custody for more than 14 months. At the time of the slaying, he was a property manager for Downes' company. He was convicted in April in the court of Superior Court Judge Joan P. Weber of second-degree murder for fatally beating Downes outside the architect's Bankers Hill home after hours of socializing with co-workers.

Downes, who was 56, suffered from 17 to 21 blows during the altercation in the early morning of April 19, 2013. Both men, who were the last of several people at Downes' home that night, were heavily intoxicated after hours of drinking.

Salgado's defense, that he couldn’t remember a fight with Downes, was effective only to the extent that he was convicted of second-degree instead of first-degree murder.

Salgado's testimony prompted prosecutors to include voluntary and involuntary manslaughter in the charges. Salgado's history of blacking out in the past after drinking, and not remembering details of transpired events, was brought up.

The defense relied on the testimony of a private forensic chemist to explain what effects alcohol may have had on Salgado the night of the fight, and how it may have explained his actions. Salgado never admitted to taking part in the fight or causing Downes' death.

He did, however, apologize Tuesday during sentencing to Downes' family and friends for their loss.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund, lead prosecutor, won Salgado's conviction on an argument that he beat Downes in a fit of rage stemming from a perceived betrayal. One of Downes' former employees, Salgado's former supervisor Simon Terry-Lloyd, had recently had a meeting with Downes.

Maund said Salgado was angry that Downes might again hire Terry-Lloyd, whom she set out to prove was disliked by Salgado.

A conviction of first-degree murder could have meant a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

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