Juan Santos-Quintero found guilty in shooting of Bingham County deputy

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Juan Santos-Quintero | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

BLACKFOOT — The man accused of shooting a sheriff’s deputy has been found guilty on all five charges.

District Judge Darren Simpson delivered his verdict after viewing evidence and hearing testimony from 22 witnesses over two days.

Juan Santos-Quintero, 23, shot Bingham County Sgt. Todd Howell on Sept. 21. He is guilty of the following:

  • Shooting Howell constitutes battery upon law enforcement and carries a maximum of 30 years in prison.
  • Shooting at Bingham County Deputies Brock Katseanes and Jakob Van Orden constitute an assault on officers. That carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for each of the two charges.
  • Santos-Quintero is also guilty of grand theft for possessing a stolen firearm and felony unlawful possession of a firearm.

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A persistent violator enhancement was filed against Santos-Quintero, which is likely to enhace his prison sentence.

The defense did not present any evidence or call any witnesses to testify on Santos-Quintero’s behalf. Santos-Quintero chose not to testify.

Simpson’s verdict comes after testimony from expert witnesses, who confirmed Santos-Quintero did have amphetamines and methamphetamine in his blood system and that the bullet that struck Howell was shot from the stolen gun in Santos-Quintero’s possession.

District Judge Darren Simpson | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

What happened Sept. 21

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On Wednesday, Bonneville County Lt. James Foster testified to his role in negotiating with Santos-Quintero to convince him to come out of the house.

Foster said he received a call at 7 p.m. Sept. 21, that Deputy Howell had been shot and that two suspects he’d been investigating had been identified at the residence where the shooting happened.

Foster had been investigating various assaults and robberies that had taken place in Idaho Falls before the shooting in Firth. He’d identified Santos-Quintero and Denise Williams as the two people involved in those incidents when he got the call they’d been found in Firth.

In his testimony, Foster was off duty when he first received the call that he needed to respond to Firth. He and Bonneville County Detective Karl Noah arrived on the scene within moments of each other.

While there, Noah was notified that the owner of the house was on the phone with Santos-Quintero. Noah got the phone number and called the suspect.

Foster said it didn’t sound like negotiations were going well, and after about 10 minutes he took over.

He said Santos-Quintero was afraid to come out of the house because he believed the police surrounding the house would shoot him as soon as they saw him because “he had shot a cop.”

Foster told the court he worked to try to convince Santos-Quintero that they would not shoot him. At one point, Santos-Quintero threatened to shoot himself in the leg so the police wouldn’t shoot him.

Santos-Quintero was the last person left inside the house. When law enforcement first arrived at the scene, they demanded everyone in the house to come out with their hands up. The two residents of the home exited and after a while, Williams exited the house.

While negotiating with Santos-Quintero over the phone, Noah said Santos-Quintero wanted to speak with Williams. He wanted to ask her if she was pregnant.

Foster told him he couldn’t speak to her over the phone, but he would be allowed to talk to her if he surrendered himself.

Santos-Quintero also said he wanted a cigarette and a bottle of water if he came out of the house.

Foster said the negotiations took little more than an hour before Santos-Quintero finally agreed to come out of the house. Santos-Quintero said he was going to come out of the house with a cellphone so he could keep talking to his mom.

Foster said Santos-Quintero did indeed come out of the house with a phone held up to his ear. However, he also had a large bottle of what appeared to be alcohol in his other hand.

Just before being tackled and taken into custody Santos-Quintero reportedly took a large swig from the bottle.

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Foster said he made good on his promises to Santos-Quintero. He gave him a bottle of water, allowed him to speak with Williams and give him not one but two cigarettes.

No one has testified as to what Santos-Quintero and Williams actually said to each other in the short time they were allowed to talk.

Santos-Quintero will be sentenced June 26. He will be held in Bonneville County until his sentencing.

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