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S.L. ENJOYING RELATIVE PEACE - ONLY 1 MURDER SO FAR IN 1995

There's been only one murder so far this year in Utah's capital city - a relatively peaceful phenomenon.

The death came early and left crime observers wondering if 1995 would break homicide tallies. But no one since Jan. 16 has been the victim of murder in the state's most-populated city, matching a record set in 1992.Don't mention that fact to Salt Lake police, who know better than to jinx a good thing by talking too much about it.

"Are you trying to change our luck?" responds Sgt. Sam Hemingway when questioned about his division's good fortune.

By March 31 last year, four people had been killed by acquaintances or relatives. Five men and women were listed as homicide victims by the same time in 1993. Even the small town of Ephraim in Sanpete County has matched Salt Lake's murder rate so far this year.

Veteran homicide detectives know the calm can't last.

"We've already had a couple of close ones that could have gone," Hemingway said.

One of those is a 15-year-old who took a bullet in his head Wednesday in a gang-related shooting. The boy, Christopher Trujillo, is recovering remarkably well, doctors say.

The city's second homicide could have well occurred March 15 when a man angry at two teenagers for supposedly stealing his tires and rims shot one of the boys twice.

One of small-caliber bullets entered the teenager's face and the second pierced his skull near his left temple. The boy survived but will suffer partial paralysis.

The shootings are only reminders that the city still suffers deadly violence and that detectives still have plenty of work to do, Hemingway said.

"(It would) be nice if we had only one murder all year, but we know it's just a matter of time."

In 1992, the only other year in recent history to start so slowly, ended with a total of 13 murders. The following year brought 22; 1994 finished with 24 homicides within city limits.