Preliminary hearing begins in murder case of well-known architect Graham Downes

Higinio Soriano Salgado suspected in Downes' death

SAN DIEGO - The preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing well-known architect Graham Downes began Tuesday morning in downtown San Diego.

Higinio Soriano Salgado, 31, is charged in the beating death of Downes, who was Salgado's boss. Bail for Salgado was set at $3 million.

Anne Macdougall testified that she and Salgado were among about 16 people invited to a happy hour at the offices of Graham Downes the night of April 18.

Later in the evening, some of the group went to Downes' residence in the 200 block of West Juniper Street and were gathered around the bar when the name of Simon Lloyd, Salgado's former supervisor at the firm, came up.

"You better not give him my (expletive) job," Salgado told Downes. "I (expletive) hate that guy," Salgado said of Lloyd, according to Macdougall.

Downes replied, "Don't worry about it. That's not going to happen," Macdougall testified.

Later, Downes asked Macdougall to give a drunken Salgado a ride home but she declined, saying she had had too much to drink.

Patrol officers responding to a reported disturbance shortly after 1 a.m. found the two men on the ground in front of the architect's residence.

Downes was unconscious with severe facial and head injuries. He died April 24 after being taken off life support.

On Tuesday morning, two neighbors testified they heard noises coming from the area where the fight happened during the early morning hours of April 19.

Jeffrey Kunitz said he was woken up in the middle of the night when he heard loud noises outside his apartment.

"It started getting escalated, a little bit louder, a little bit more angry, it seemed like," Kunitz testified. "I could see two shapes mainly and colors … the larger man was a little bit more upset, a little bit more aggressive."

He testified that although it was dark, he could see what looked like one man on top of the other man. It appeared they were fighting, with one person holding the other down.

Kunitz said he called 911 twice because of the argument.

Another woman also testified that she heard loud noises outside her apartment.

"I guess the first time I woke up to a noise, [a] really loud man, male voice," testified a second neighbor, Anita Kuusela.

"I think I heard… 'I'm going to f—you,'" Kuusela said of the commotion.

During Salgado's arraignment Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund told Judge David Szumowski that Salgado, a property manager for the victim's company, allegedly beat Downes, fracturing his skull in several places.

Downes' architecture firm is well-known for its work at several local hotels and restaurants, including Tom Ham's Lighthouse, the Bali Hai, Hotel La Jolla and the Hard Rock Hotel.

District Attorney Investigator Scott Christie testified that Lloyd told him after the killing that while he was still working for Graham Downes

Architecture, he recommended that Salgado be fired after some property came up missing and the defendant admitted taking it.

Lloyd told the investigator that he had no intention of returning to Graham Downes Architecture.

On Tuesday, several of Downes' family and friends appeared in court to listen to testimony.

The preliminary hearing continues Wednesday morning.

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