Man convicted in Downes death given 15 years to life
Published - 07/10/14 - 02:42 PM | 3371 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A former employee of architect Graham Downes charged in Downes' 2013 beating death was sentenced Tuesday, July 8, to 15 years to life in prison.

Higinio Salgado, 32, convicted of second-degree murder on April 24, was fined $10,000 and given credit for 443 days in jail by San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Weber.

“This is one of the most senseless, disturbing killings this court has ever seen,” Weber said.

Witnesses testified that everyone, including Salgado and the 56-year-old Downes, were drinking at a party outside his Bankers Hill home on April 19, 2013. Salgado’s defense claimed he was too intoxicated to commit murder.

“Alcohol is not an excuse for killing,” Weber told Salgado. “You will be held responsible when you drink and commit senseless acts.”

A former employee of Graham Downes Architecture told Weber that 16 employees lost their jobs when the firm went out of business following Downes' death. She added that some under-way projects were abandoned.

“I just want to tell everybody that I’m deeply, deeply sorry for their loss,” Salgado said. “I know Graham Downes was a great man.”

Downes had designed or helped plan several area buildings, including Tower 23 in Pacific Beach and Hotel La Jolla’s guest rooms, The Thin Bar downtown and the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. Downes is credited with the overhaul of Tom Ham’s Lighthouse on Harbor Island and Bali Hai on Shelter Island. He also played on several Old Mission Beach Athletic Club teams.

Witnesses testified Salgado became upset when he learned a former employee, who had previously advised Downes to terminate Salgado, might be returning to the firm.

--Neal Putnam

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