WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – One day after police said they were surprised a suspect in a shooting had been let go due to issues with evidence, the Fraternal Order of Police is accusing Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill of covering up a mistake.
West Valley City Police Department officials spoke to FOX 13 News Thursday about the release of Raymond Marquina, who they said is the primary suspect in an attempted murder. The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office stated there wasn’t enough evidence to keep the man in custody.
The Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter Friday, stating this particular suspect is very dangerous. He’s a known gang member accused of shooting a 72-year-old man in the face and neck multiple times. Police said the suspect should be in jail, but Gill said there is nothing he can do because the evidence to hold the man isn’t there.
The letter from the FOP spoke directly to Gill’s actions: “The Utah Fraternal Order of Police was initially dismayed at the accidental release of Raymond Marquina, especially as his victim is still recovering in the hospital from the gunshots. We believed the mistake would be quickly corrected with a warrant and rearrest. However, while a mistake is understandable, DA Sim Gill’s covering up of the mistake is not.”
The FOP further states they are filing GRAMA requests for emails they claim will show that the DA’s Office mistakenly released the man.
Gill said he has no qualms about the emails being requested and said the evidence was not sufficient to keep Marquina in jail and that the release was the lawful course of action and not a mistake.
“It’s a free country,” Gill said. “They can GRAMA whatever they like to GRAMA; they are welcome to it, whatever they want to look at. Again, we continue to focus on the serious work, the rule of law, and our responsibility. We have nothing to prove other than to do our job diligently and work with our local law enforcement on this issue.”
Gill went on to say, "The FOP or anybody else doesn't know exactly what the issues were, what were the underlying concerns. For them to speculate from outside is really interfering in what is already an ongoing investigation."
Marquina was released October 29, about a week after he was booked on charges of attempted murder and felony discharge of a firearm. The arrest was in connection with the shooting of Robert Warren, which occurred at the victim’s home in September.
A total of four suspects were arrested, the other three remain in custody.
"There were some evidentiary issues and under our jurisdiction here and under our constitution we simply can't hold people because we want to, no matter how much I may have wanted to hold him," Gill said.
Police said they believe they have the evidence to prove Marquina was the lone shooter, and they aren’t sure why he was released.
“I would say we are just as surprised as anyone else that this case wasn’t charged the first time around, but we’ll do everything we can to get him back into jail,”Roxeanne Vainuku, who is West Valley City Public Information Officer, said Thursday.
Residents living in the victim's neighborhood are also concerned.
"My blood was flowing let's put it that way, because it shouldn't of happened he should be inside and I don't think he should be out walking the streets," said Erin Wyttenbach.
Wyttenbach knows Warren personally and lives right across the street.
"It's kind of scary because he knows where he lives, you know, who knows if he could come back," said Wyttenbach.
Warren is still recovering from the wounds suffered in the shooting and is listed as being in stable condition. The man’s family has declined to comment.