CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Man booked for automobile homicide after reportedly running over his wife at Salt Lake International Airport

Apr 5, 2022, 7:28 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:20 am

(Investigators sealing off a portion of the parking garage at Salt Lake International Airport, Apri...

(Investigators sealing off a portion of the parking garage at Salt Lake International Airport, April 4, 2022. Pool photo)

(Investigators sealing off a portion of the parking garage at Salt Lake International Airport, April 4, 2022. Pool photo)

SALT LAKE CITY — More details are being released about a bizarre auto-pedestrian crash at Salt Lake International Airport that killed a woman and landed her husband in jail.  Some legal analysts say this case may be more complex than it may appear on paper.

Accident at Salt Lake City International Airport

The probable cause statement says officers were hit with a strong smell of alcohol on Shawn Sturgeon and from his car when they stopped him at the tollbooth by the parking garage at the airport.  Investigators say Sturgeon had glassy, bloodshot eyes and smelled like alcohol even after he was taken to the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building.  Former prosecutor Kent Morgan, who is not connected to this case, says that’s enough to book Sturgeon for automobile homicide, negligence DUI of alcohol or drugs.

Morgan said, “Criminal negligence always occurs whenever somebody is under the influence of alcohol.”

The PC statement says Sturgeon was there to pick up his wife and young coming home from a short vacation.  He reportedly put the child in the back seat then got into the driver’s seat. And backed up the car while his wife was still standing by an open rear door.  They say she was dragged a short distance, then fell to the ground.  Investigators say Sturgeon then drove forward 10 inches, running over his wife.

Different interpretation

Morgan says what happened next adds a wrinkle to the case.  The PC statement says Sturgeon picked up his wife and put her in the passenger’s seat. He then drove to the tollbooth.  Morgan says a good defense attorney would argue Sturgeon was trying to get his wife to safety. But a good prosecutor would have a completely different interpretation of what happened.

“A good prosecutor is going to say he engaged in concealing the crime that he has committed of intentionally running somebody over,” Morgan said.  “I think this case is very complex.”

Morgan believes it’s possible prosecutors could charge Sturgeon with second degree felony manslaughter instead of third-degree automobile homicide. However, they would have to prove Sturgeon knowingly engaged in reckless behavior.  According to the PC statement, Sturgeon said he accidentally ran over his wife while he was being taken into custody.

He said, “Is there any indication, otherwise in this case, that the individual was engaging in intentionally trying to hurt the other person?”

According to Morgan, prosecutors will likely look through the couple’s history to find any sign if this crash was pre-meditated. However, it might not have been.

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Man booked for automobile homicide after reportedly running over his wife at Salt Lake International Airport