SALT LAKE CITY — A man who was injured in a shooting at his girlfriend’s apartment in November that also resulted in the woman dying has now been charged with manslaughter.
Steven Howard Scruggs, 47, of Salt Lake City, was charged Wednesday with second-degree felony manslaughter in addition to possession of a firearm by a restricted person, also a second-degree felony.
On the night of Nov. 26, Salt Lake police were called to the Windsor Park Apartments, 1798 W. 700 North, where two people were critically injured with gunshot wounds. Leticia Smith, 56, of Salt Lake City, later died at the hospital from her injury.
At the time, police were unsure of what exactly happened.
When officers first arrived at the house, they found Scruggs outside the residence with a gunshot wound to his chest. His live-in girlfriend, Smith, was found at the top of the stairs with a gunshot wound to her stomach. Initially, she was able to talk to the first responders, according to charging documents.
“As officers were attending to Leticia, they asked her who shot her. Leticia pointed to (Scruggs) and said, ‘He did,’” the charges state.
An autopsy determined Smith’s manner of death was homicide.
Detectives recovered a single gun from the residence and two shell casings. Scruggs’ DNA was found on the gun, according to the charges.
Smith had dialed 911 on her cellphone. On Scruggs’ phone, police found a text message from Scruggs to a friend about 45 minutes before the shooting claiming he was suicidal and that he and Smith were breaking up, the charges say.
When interviewed by police, Scruggs said he had “no recollection of what transpired regarding how (he) was shot or how Leticia was shot,” the charges state.
A charge of manslaughter means a person’s reckless actions caused the death of another person, but it does not mean the killing was intentional.
When asked what led prosecutors to file a manslaughter charge as opposed to murder, Salt Lake County deputy district attorney Jeff Hall said he could not comment beyond what was written in the probable cause statement, but more facts might come out later during trial. He added that the district attorney’s office files charges that are supported by the available facts.
Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence or knows of a victim in Salt Lake City is encouraged to call police at 801-799-3000 and ask to speak with a victim advocate or call a 24-hour hotline at 801-580-7969.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 or the Utah LINKLine at 1-800-897-5465 for confidential assistance.