Cellphone or gun? Man convicted in road rage incident

ST. GEORGE — A Washington County jury found a St. George man guilty of aggravated assault Friday for allegedly pointing a gun at a young family in February in a case of what the prosecution characterized as road rage.

A jury of seven women and one man returned a guilty verdict against 23-year-old Rashad Alton for one third-degree felony count of aggravated assault and a not-guilty verdict for one class A misdemeanor count of brandishing a gun. The case involved an incident that occurred on Interstate 15 in Washington and St. George in February.

On the morning of Feb. 10, Marnie Echols was giving her friend Steven Perez, 23, and his friend, the defendant Alton, a ride to St. George in her silver Honda Civic. While traveling southbound on I-15 in the left lane, just past the Washington Parkway exit, an altercation ensued and escalated. Echols’ passenger, Perrez, was looking down when he felt Echols’ car pass over the rumble strips, Perez said, after a white Honda Accord cut them off.

“I was yelling at the top of my lungs,” Perez said. “We were all just yelling and throwing up our hands.”

It was after the white Honda Accord, driven by Sean Robinson, 21, merged back into the right lane and Echols sped up to pass them that Alton flashed a 9 mm handgun at the passengers in the white Honda Accord, witness Sean Robinson said during testimony. Passengers in Sean Robinson’s car included his then-fiancé Haley Robinson, 20, and their 2-year-old daughter.

Alton then leaned out of the window, turned back and pointed the gun at their car, both Sean Robinson and Haley Robinson said in testimony to the court. The Robinsons described the gun as being all black with a silver ring around the barrel. After seeing the gun pointed at them, Haley Robinson said, she called 911.

Sean and Haley Robinson both said they had not seen the gun since the incident on the freeway.

Echols and Perez both said in testimony that the Robinsons had confused a gun with a cell phone. Echols said that she had never met Alton before the day of the incident in February. She said that neither Perez nor Alton knew she had a gun.

After pulling over Echols in a car lot near 200 West on St. George Boulevard, St. George Police Officer Hector Dominguez said, he approached the vehicle alone, without backup, on the passenger side of the vehicle with his hand on his gun.

“I started asking them where’s the gun?” Dominguez said to the jury. “Alton said, ‘what gun?'”

As Dominguez pulled Alton out of the car, Echols reached over and opened the glove box exposing an unloaded gun with no bullets in the chamber, she then pulled the clip out of the center console, Dominguez said to the jury. He said he grabbed the clip and the gun, which at the time was not locked into the safe position, held the gun to his chest and walked back to his car to make sure the gun was in a safe position.

Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Wheat presented evidence during the trial including a black Jericho 9 mm handgun with a silver ring around the barrel. He said the gun had been retrieved from the glove box of the car just inches in front of where the defendant Alton was sitting, arguing that the gun matched the exact description of the Robinsons’ witness statements.

Echols said she carried the gun, registered to her father, for her own protection in her line of work.

Defense Attorney Edward Flint countered Wheat’s argument pointing out that the gun was found in the unsafe position which would have covered the silver barrel. Flint asked whether Dominguez had tested the gun for fingerprints.

Dominguez said the gun was never tested for fingerprints because he had grabbed the gun with his bare hands and “contaminated it.”

“Why would he need fingerprints?” Wheat asked during his closing statement. “Marnie (Echols) and Steven (Perez) have a lot of reasons to lie. Haley and Sean (Robinson) have no reason to lie.”

Flint questioned Dominguez about the standard procedure for police officers when they are informed that there may be a gun in a vehicle; he asked if typical protocol in a situation involving a gun would call for a “felony stop,” requiring the officer to wait for backup to arrive before approaching the vehicle. Dominguez said that officers are allowed case management and certain situations demand altered procedures.

“Sometimes in the moment you got to do what you got to do,” Dominguez said.

When Flint questioned Sean Robinson whether Alton had a hat on and what kind of hat he was wearing, Sean Robinson said he couldn’t remember; then he got flustered and said, “the hat’s not the problem.”

Flint, though, said in his closing statement that, in the Robinsons’ witness statements, Alton is described as a black man wearing a black hat. He asked the jury how it could happen realistically that Alton could lean out of the window and not have his hat fly off while zooming down the freeway at 80 miles per hour?

After over an hour of deliberation, the jury returned its verdicts, finding Alton guilty of aggravated assault, but not guilty of brandishing a gun. The Honorable G. Michael Westfall ordered immediate probation and set Alton’s sentencing for Oct. 1.

Flint said that sometimes a jury will “split the baby,” dropping the lesser charge – in this case, the misdemeanor charge of brandishing a weapon.

“It was a tough case. People saw a black man with a gun,” Flint said. “Everyone in Utah has a gun, but you know when someone sees a black man with a gun … it’s different. I knew as soon as the jury walked in that it was a guilty verdict because suddenly none of the jurors would make eye contact.”

“They are racist,” Alton said after the trial, referring to some of the jury members, “I already knew they were going to convict me.” 

“There wasn’t even circumstantial evidence. This was a ‘he said, she said’ case, and now Alton’s life is forever changed,” Private Investigator Christian Warmsley said, who also interviewed some of the witnesses prior to this trial.

“We have a problem with our judicial system because of the stereotypes bound to white and black,” Warmsley said. “It doesn’t matter if you are black, green, white, purple or blue, to the law, you are a liar. You have to prove yourself innocent.”

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30 Comments

  • Koolaid August 25, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Probably the only things these Dixie guys luv more than their guns are horses and dogs and maybe bows and arrows for shooting cats and dogs.

    • Rick August 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Yes, Koolaid is a ignorant moron if anyone was wondering. I would also guess not from around these parts.

      • Koolaid August 25, 2014 at 4:10 pm

        He probably would not have been found guilty had he only served a strong mission somewhere and had a ward recommend.

  • Mean momma August 25, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Wow Alton…. Way to play the race card. You got convicted because you did have a gun, not a cell phone. What a bunch of lying idiots.

  • Mean momma August 25, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Kind of hard to prove you’re not a liar when the victims can describe your gun that was apparently only a cell phone. Just because the jury didn’t fall for your BS doesn’t make them racist. You and your lawyer are the racists!

    • Koolaid August 25, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Don’t you know that in these parts of Utah, anyone with darker features are Lamanites, depicted as usually dark-skinned, wicked rivals to the usually lighter-skinned, righteous Nephites?

  • My Evil Twin August 25, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Oh sure, it isn’t about somebody pointing a gun at somebody else, it is all about race. What a crock of crap. Believe me, if someone points a gun at me, (and it has happened,) I’m not gonna be caring about the person’s skin color. Or their sex. Or their age.
    I’m going to be doing my best to mitigate the advantage they have of already having a gun pointed at me, I’m going to be taking evasive action, looking for cover, and preparing to return fire, if necessary. No matter what the person’s race, sex, age, religion, or any other number of factors a slime ball lawyer can think up to get the person off, later on.

    • bobber August 25, 2014 at 11:51 am

      “I’m going to be taking evasive action, looking for cover, and preparing to return fire”

      You just can’t wait to play commando like the grownups can you?

      • My Evil Twin August 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

        Hey Bobber, why don’t you grow up, and find something productive to do. Like stealing cars, or mugging old ladies. Sounds like you would excel at either one.

    • EL JEFE August 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Or what kind of hat he was wearing……

  • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 25, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    But its ok to leave your infant child in the car until they cook to death. Then just take the mothers word as the truth. I SAY IT WAS A CELL PHONE!

  • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 25, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    So I just read the article…I guess all black people just carry guns and wave them around all willy nilly! I have my concealed weapons permit. I don’t carry a gun because of racial profiling here in Saint George. I also am not scared of other people. So I don’t need to carry my firearm. Every other person I know(white people) have 1-4 firearms on their person at all times to protect themselves…against what? I live in Saint George so I don’t have to carry. I am not afraid of getting car jacked or robbed…by who? Not a black person. LOOK AT THE BOOKINGS! How many of our criminals are black? If they are black they are pimps or prostitutes. Saint George is just giving them a hard time because they are making money on the side and operating w/o a business permit. I bet if the city found a way to tax it, it would not be illegal. Where is the proof this was not just a cell phone and the family was lying.

    • Mean momma August 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      I would say the proof is in the fact that the victims were able to DESCRIBE the gun that was found in the car…. Or maybe all white people are just psychic and just happened to know that there was a gun with that exact description in the car. Hmmmmm, I don’t know…. I guess you’re right Dalton, they were all just a bunch of racist jurors.

      • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 28, 2014 at 8:43 am

        sure they were….All white women and one man. In my experience there are to kind of women. Those who are afraid of black men and those who realize once you go black you never go back! GO FALCONS!

  • Joanna August 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    This makes me think of a great book by Jason L. Riley called “Please Stop Helping Us”. It talks about the detriment of Affirmative Action, and how much damage can be done to a minority by successfully playing a race card. (Not that Alton here was successful in the least. He just comes off sounding like a sore loser, and the racist claim is pretty weak)

  • EL JEFE August 25, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I wonder if Officer Dominguez would have had to defend himself and shot Alton when he approached their car, if there would be a repeat of Ferguson, MO here in good ‘ole St. Geezy. Nahhh….not enough black people here.

  • Potential Soutern Utah Resident August 25, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    From the comments on this article it sounds like race relations are not superb in southern Utah. Living in Wisconsin and owning property in Hurricane I am hoping that southern Utah cracks down on all of these vagrants, and that is what they are, in the St George area. White/black/hispanic whatever the color

  • utahman August 25, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Did Sean Robinson receive a citation for reckless driving or did he have the correct requirements, ( white skin, proper religious affiliation etc…)

  • TransplantUtahian August 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Fact: A gun was in the car
    Fact: It was described perfectly
    We all make split second decisions but too often those decisions are emotionally driven. Mr Alton now must spend some time in prison and a check on his record forever because of his emotional split second decision. Sucks for him but everyone must suffer the consequences of our decisions.

  • Bobbers August 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    To all my dumb transplant so. Utahns. I believe in abortion so much that I feel as though the parents of koolaid1, bobber2, and I’ma nota scarada of nobodya dDal ton of BS regret that they did not pursue an abortion to help make the world a better place. You are all racist and have always proved by your comments.

    • Koolaid August 25, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      Stay worthy my brother/sister. To those who say “black power”, you say “Nephite is right!”

  • Mark August 25, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Ok we got a White trash girl with a trashy guy that just happens to be black, her day was ruined as it seems she thought she was going to score since she picked him up earlier that day, also Josh Inco… haven’t you mentioned where you and your mom work in earlier stories? You might want to keep your mouth shut, if it was a redneck showing a gun like this idiot he would also be arrested not because he is a redneck but because he’s an idiot waving a gun.

  • Markymark August 25, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    I know who this girl is. Rude, hot tempered, nobody you want to pi** off. I am not surprised at this incident. Let’s not lump this into black or white. Let’s talk about the incident that happened and that there was a 2 yr old child in the car. Describing what a person looks like is not racist. It’s a description. White people can be red heads, brunette a, black hair, blue eyed, hazel, etc. doesn’t mean you hate red heads if you give a description of a crime they committed. Get it together on both sides of this issue. Wrong is wrong. Criminal actions are just that. Grow up.

  • Bob Ohner August 25, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    It brakes my hart every time I see Koolaid excommunicated. Name, was it the adultery, the fournacation, the homosexual activity, was it the lies the untruths, your un willingness not to give coins to the homeless, sick, or hungry, was it the manipulation of young boys you where teaching how to tie a square not but not how to get out of them, was it the complaints about the only true principles taught by churches, was it the time you lost one of your boys from a glory hole accident. Was it because you lost your self worth by giving away … just nickel at a time. Was it when your gril friend got made at you, you go here from behind. So excited she pooped in your boots, then you got made thru a rock hit her in the horn,or was you ex’ed just because sme don’t have the desire to do goog. But to bad continually . READ. MARK 7:22-28 learn a little koolaid…. READ 1Corithians 6: 9-10. Koolaids change change change for … CHANGE so you and the three stupido won’t die in shame and as an embers sediment created by the burning o… you live on in the plant ….pull your troll heads from out of the planet … take a fresh breath of air. Just tontalist breath out you stink but you can be cleansed from the filth of trio trolls. God will forgive all the stupid stuff you say and do even help you with faith of things not seen. But he won’t tolerate you if you don’t change, he will send you down on the train … so fast you’ll be … magma your choice I’ll keep my eyes on you steal …s as you troll around each other’s bowls and drink in the wamp of humanity just to get close to the god you worship that lives in the swers and breath fowl breath bird … nag out nag in trio gat triplets know how to troll
    Ed. ellipses.

  • Markymark August 26, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Josh Dalton…. I happen to know where you work. I am surprised your boss hasn’t asked you to tone it down. And you obviously are a Liar because I know who you work with and not all of the white people there own guns. A lot of them are hunters and keep their rifles at home. But come on… That is really generalizing. You saying all white people own 1-4 guns is like me saying all black men have 1-4 STDS. The rates are higher among black men but that doesn’t mean they all have them.

    • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 28, 2014 at 8:58 am

      “tone down” if you know me then you know that that is not who I am as a person. I said firearms. Not rifles. Just to make things clear. they DO NOT always keep them at home. first of all a real redneck keeps their rifle in the truck. I you really knew what you were talking about you would realize that I am not hating on my fellow employees. I was just saying that I am grateful that I don’t have to carry a firearm. Yes, I was generalizing. We are talking about Utah. Not the Nation. If 1-4 black men have STDs in Utah then we are in trouble. Being that there are only 5 of us. So today I am going to ask everybody here. I will have a exact number for you by the end of the day.

  • Koolaid August 26, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Is this woman any relation to those classy (not) Dixie females who started the fight and riot at the Virgin River waterboard park (“come fight the beaners”) or the 18 year old duking it out with a 15 year old. If these Utah Dixie chicks are lying, fighting and creating a bunch of social problems, what does that say about their worthiness or even their own mental instability?

  • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 28, 2014 at 10:02 am

    MARKYMARK: Being that you called me a liar and name calling never gets you anywhere, I got you some facts. I took a poll here on the job site. White people with guns 33 out of that 32 own less than 4, out of the 2 black people here we both have a firearm, All 3 Mexicans have a firearm, 2 have more than 3, There are also 2 Asians, they both have a firearm, 1 has more than 4, and of course I can’t forget the only Polynesian, well she has more than 1 firearm as well. So with that being said I am confident that my generalization holds water. So if you take my poll and multiply that with Utah then my original number of 1-4 is incorrect its more like 9 out of 10 white people own a firearm and also carry more than one at any given time. I forgot to mention that only 3 people at my place of work to not carry or own a firearm, they do have intention of getting their CWP in the near future….SO DO THE MATH AND QUIT NAME CALLING!

  • kellyok2 June 19, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Unfortunately I have to live with this guy underneath me. I think he should have gotten at least 5 years for this incident.i think he got off because he was having twins but he should have thought about them before trying to bully an incident young family. This guy is a filthy, loud mouthed SOB from Mississippi.Rashad if you don’t like us and think we are fake then maybe you should go home to Mississippi. We don’t need you’re kind here. Not because you are black but because you are a disgusting, ignorant … I constantly fear for my safety because of this guy. If I could I would add more locks to my door. I am currently trying to get this stupid family evicted.
    Ed. ellipsis.

  • kellyok2 June 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Darned auto correct!

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