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West Valley man charged with murdering handyman working next door

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Members of law enforcement work at a home near 1700 S. Indiana Avenue in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 29, 2020, where a suspect in a fatal shooting near 2900 South and 3000 West in West Valley City was arrested.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A West Valley man was charged Friday with shooting and killing a handyman who had been working next door to him in May.

Jesus Adolfo Valdez Jr., 30 — whose aliases include “Chucky” and “Diablo,” according to court records — is charged in 3rd District Court with murder, and three counts of discharge of a firearm, all first-degree felonies; plus possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony.

On May 28, Melbin Martinez, 39, was hired to do work on a home near 2900 South and 3050 West. Police were called on a report of a shooting and arrived to find Martinez had been shot at least five times and was lying on the ground near the side of the garage, according to charging documents. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives recovered five shell casings and a gun in a vehicle parked next door, the charges state.

Police interviewed Valdez’s parents who live next door and they said their son lived with them. They painted a picture of Valdez already being agitated before the shooting, starting with an argument in the house earlier that afternoon during which he “broke a television and a bedroom door,” the charges state.

The father said he got home from work and saw Valdez outside putting the pieces of the door he had broken into a garbage can and then yelled at his son for his conduct, according to the charges.

About 30 minutes later — after Martinez was shot — Valdez was seen leaving the area on his motorcycle.

West Valley police said on the day of the shooting that Martinez had done work on the home previously and developed a bad relationship with some neighbors “due to noise.”

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Jesus Adolfo Valdez Jr., 30, of West Valley City, was charged Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, with murder in the May shooting death of a handyman who was doing work at a house next door to his.

Utah Department of Corrections

While police were still at the residence investigating the killing, Valdez called his house, asked about the status of the investigation and asked if his dad could pick him up, according to the charges.

“(The father) became tearful and said he couldn’t do it,” the court documents say.

When police stated they wanted to talk to Valdez and were handed the phone, “Valdez acted as if he did not know what had happened or what was going on. When (the detective) offered to pick Valdez up and asked where he was, Valdez hung up,” the charges state.

Police tracked Valdez down the next day and arrested him.

Investigators used a forensic ballistics examination to match the bullets with the gun they were fired from, and then matched Valdez’s DNA with the DNA collected from the grip of that gun, according to the charges.

Valdez was on parole at the time of the shooting and was being held in the Utah State Prison on Friday.