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Utah man charged with murdering his sister's boyfriend

A Utah man was charged Wednesday with shooting and killing his sister's boyfriend in Murray, saying the man had "disrespected" his sister. The sister also faces criminal charges in the killing.

A Utah man was charged Wednesday with shooting and killing his sister's boyfriend in Murray, saying the man had "disrespected" his sister. The sister also faces criminal charges in the killing. (Spencer Heaps, Deseret News)

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MURRAY — A man accused of shooting and killing his sister's boyfriend at a Murray residence in September was charged Wednesday with murder.

The sister is also facing criminal charges.

James Scott Arnold, 25, is charged in 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony, plus obstructing justice and possession of a gun by a restricted person, second-degree felonies. His sister, Vanessa Lucia Arnold, 40, was charged Wednesday with obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony, and witness tampering, a third-degree felony.

Murray police responded to a report of a shooting just before 2 a.m. on Sept. 29 at 125 E. 4800 South. Carlos Jhovany Huerta-Garcia, 22, was found lying on the living room floor near the front door with his girlfriend, Vanessa Arnold, nearby.

"In searching the home, officers located a closet by the open front door. The closet had a large amount of blood inside, a .40-caliber casing, a bullet hole in the wall and hair believed to be from Carlos," according to the charging documents.

Arnold told police that she and her boyfriend were in an upstairs bedroom when he went downstairs and a gunshot was heard soon after, the charges state. She told detectives that she saw a person wearing dark clothing run across the street.

Using nearby surveillance video, police determined that a man in a white sedan may be connected to the shooting. Two days before the killing, they said that man was captured on video parking at the residence and throwing a Pepsi can out of the car.

Police were able to recover that soda can and pulled fingerprints from it that matched James Arnold, the charges state.

Investigators also obtained surveillance video from a nearby business that showed the back of the residence. The video recorded Vanessa Arnold "going back and forth from the residence to a camper trailer multiple times with a male for over an hour prior to the shooting," according to a police affidavit. That male was identified as James Arnold who was also "seen on video leaving the scene in a vehicle seconds after the gunshot," the affidavit states.

But when questioned by police, Vanessa Arnold "denied activity seen clearly on video surveillance of the property. Vanessa made up names of people and later used inconsistencies from previous statements. Vanessa had an episode in the interview room with detectives when pressed about a previous contradicting statement she had given. She pulled her hair and hit her head so hard it caused a seizure and sent her to the hospital for treatment," charging documents state.

Vanessa Arnold was arrested in October for investigation of obstruction of justice.

Detectives also found a witness who claimed that James Arnold admitted to killing Huerta-Garcia, according to the court documents.

"James told (the witness) that Carlos was in a closet, and that he had shot Carlos one time in the head. James said he shot Carlos stemming from a bad relationship with Carlos disrespecting Vanessa," the charges state.

Later, the witness told police that he refused to help James Arnold flee the state, and Vanessa Arnold responded by telling him "that if anything happened to James, she would kill" him, according to the charging documents.

After the shooting, James Arnold fled to Las Vegas, according to court documents, and changed his identity. When he was arrested in Las Vegas, police say he had drugs and guns in his possession.

Prosecutors have requested that Arnold be held in the Salt Lake County Jail without bail pending trial, noting that he "has a lengthy conviction record as he has been convicted of nine misdemeanors and five felonies since 2018 in the state of Utah." He was on parole at the time of the shooting.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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