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Worker Guilty in Architect’s Killing

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

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An employee has been convicted of second-degree murder in the April 2013 beating death of internationally known architect Graham Downes.

Higinio Salgado, 32, a facilities manager at Downes’ San Diego architecture firm, faces 15 years behind bars in the case. His sentencing is scheduled for June 6.

After a nearly two-week-long trial, the jury found Thursday (April 24) that Salgado had criminal intent when he drunkenly beat the architect in front of his San Diego home.

Graham Downes
Photos: Graham Downes Architecture Inc.

International architect Graham Downes was found unconscious April 19, 2013, in front of his home. He died two days later. An employee was found guilty of murder.

Prosecutors said the worker had become enraged over the possibility that a former supervisor could be returning to work at the firm.

Argument Turns Violent

The incident followed a firm-hosted happy hour and night of heavy drinking on April 18, 2013, authorities said. Salgado and Downes reportedly got into an argument over the former supervisor, who left the firm in 2011.

The altercation turned physical, and Salgado pounded the victim with 17 to 21 blows to the head on the sidewalk in front of his home around 1 a.m., prosecutors reportedly told jurors.

Responding to neighbors' calls reporting the fight, police officers found Downes, 55, unconscious shortly before 2 a.m. April 19 with injuries to his head and neck, according to local news outlets.

Graham Downes Architecture

Downes' decades of work included many hotels, such as The Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, CA.

Salgado was found uninjured lying next to him, reports said. No weapons were found.

Downes died two days later from his injuries, according to the firm’s publicist. Salgado was then charged with murder.

Mental State at Issue

During the trial, Salgado’s defense attorney argued that with an estimated blood-alcohol level of 0.22 to 0.24, his client was “blackout drunk” and should not be held fully responsible for his actions as he was “virtually unconscious.”

Testimony during a previous hearing also revealed that the victim had a blood-alcohol level of 0.23 percent.

However, the prosecution argued that “blackout drunks” were still capable of making decisions and that Salgado's condition could not be used to excuse the crime.

It was Salgado’s hatred for the former supervisor and fear of losing his job that resulted in a “murderous rage,” prosecutors said.

Graham Downes Architecture

Downes founded Graham Downes Architecture Inc. in 1994. The firm was renowned for its retail, hospitality, entertainment and urban mixed-use projects.

The jury agreed with the prosecution, finding Salgado guilty of second-degree murder.

Salgado’s attorney, Jose Badillo, did not immediately respond Tuesday (April 29) to a request for comment on the verdict or the possibility of appeal.

Remembering the Designer

The architect, whose true name was Downes Graham Trouncer, was the principal and founder of Graham Downes Architecture Inc., a firm renowned for its retail, hospitality, entertainment and urban mixed-use projects.

Downes’ design portfolio spans more than 25 years and includes projects abroad.

Among his works are the San Diego Hard Rock Hotel; Shelter Island's Bali Hai restaurant; Tower 23 Hotel; Tom Ham’s Lighthouse; and Hard Rock Hotel Nuevo Vallarta.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Business matters; Color + Design; Criminal acts; Design; Designers; Facility Managers; Fatalities; Hotels; Retail

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