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4 in fatal home invasion had plan to rob suspected drug dealer, police say

TAYLORSVILLE — Three men accused of participating in a home invasion robbery that turned deadly appeared in court Monday to face charges filed against them.

Four men went to 5163 S. Applewood Drive on Oct. 9, believing that the homeowner sold marijuana and had about $90,000 in cash inside the home, according to a recently released search warrant filed in 3rd District Court.

Police say Nicholas Monte, 23, Geno Alex Gonzales, 22, and Alfred Gomez, 34, planned to break into the house while Jose M. Mendoza, 22, stayed in the getaway vehicle.

Sergio "Javier" Vargas-Martinez "saw and heard the men kick in his front door," according to police. Monte pointed a handgun at Vargas-Martinez who responded by firing his own weapon, charging documents state. Gonzales said he heard three or four gunshots.

While Monte and Vargas-Martinez were locked in their confrontation, one of the other intruders held a gun to the head of Vargas-Martinez's fiancée and the third held a gun to the head of a 15-year-old girl, according to the charges. After Vargas-Martinez shot Monte, the other two intruders ran out of the house, according to court documents.

Monte was driven by his associates to Pioneer Valley Hospital where he later died from being shot in the chest.

The case was initially a mystery for Unified police, because no one reported a home invasion or a shooting and the suspects did not provide detectives with an exact address. Investigators even feared that the homeowner had been shot and was lying dead in a house somewhere, according to the search warrant.

Monte was a member of a violent Salt Lake street gang, the warrant states. Investigators also feared that other members of the gang would find the homeowner before police did and then retaliate for the death.

When detectives were eventually able to track down Vargas-Martinez's house, they found a marijuana growing operation inside. Vargas-Martinez told police he threw away his marijuana plants and disconnected his operation after the shooting and also patched up the bullet holes in his wall, according to court records.

Vargas-Martinez was charged Oct. 18 in 3rd District Court with drug manufacturing, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and obstruction of justice, all third-degree felonies. He was not, however, charged with the shooting death of Monte, who had broken into his home.

Gonzales, Mendoza and Gomez were charged Oct. 18 in 3rd District Court with aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery, both first-degree felonies.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam