As state issues formal charges, girlfriend of man accused of murdering teen appears in court

Stock image | Photo by Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The man suspected in the shooting death of a teen in St. George was formally charged with first-degree murder Friday, while his girlfriend, who is also implicated in the crime, made a tearful video appearance in court.

Nicanor Vasquez-Mendoza, booking photo posted in Washington County, Utah, Aug. 15, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The defendants, 32-year-old Nicanor Vasquez-Mendoza and 26-year-old Silvia Lopez, both of St. George, were charged in connection with the alleged murder of 18-year-old Skyler Armstrong Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the Washington County Attorney’s Office charged Vasquez-Mendoza with one count of first-degree felony murder; second-degree felony counts of obstructing justice and intent to distribute, as well as 10 third-degree felony charges that include obstructing justice; aggravated assault; felony discharge of a firearm; five counts of witness tampering; and two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person. He also faces a misdemeanor count of carrying a dangerous weapon under the influence of alcohol/drugs.

Lopez appeared via video in 5th District Court in St. George where she was charged with one second-degree felony count of obstructing justice and five third-degree felony counts of witness tampering.

The charges stem from a shooting incident reported in St. George Wednesday evening in which officers arrived to find Armstrong suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to the hospital but died shortly thereafter.

Silvia Lopez, booking photo posted in Washington County, Utah, Aug. 15, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

At the time of the alleged murder, Police say Lopez was in the living room of her residence when she heard a gunshot and entered the bedroom to find a man on the floor bleeding from the head with a handgun next to his body. After she determined Armstrong “was beyond help,” she left the residence and, according to police, was told by Vasquez-Mendoza to tell the other individuals in the room to “get their stories straight.”

It is alleged that Lopez told the others to tell police they saw nothing, as they were “busy looking at their telephones,” and that Armstrong was playing with the gun when he accidentally shot himself, which is the story the group initially stuck to when interviewed by police.

Additionally, police state that Lopez was “very elusive and untruthful with officers” during questioning, including saying Vasquez-Mendoza was not in the bedroom when the shooting took place, denying ever speaking to him after the shooting and also denying telling the others to get their stories straight.

During Lopez’ video appearance in court Friday, 5th District Judge Jeffrey Wilcox read the defendant her rights under Miranda. When he recited the section on her right to remain silent, he said “you ought to remember that” and then admonished her to exercise her right to an attorney, considering the seriousness of the charges filed against her.

Lopez tearfully requested a public defender, at which point attorney Ed Flint was assigned to represent her. Lopez then requested that her bail be reduced so that she “could be home with her three little ones.” The request was tabled until the issue could be addressed further, possibly at her next hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Lopez remains in custody on $35,000 bail, while Vasquez-Mendoza is being held on $500,000 bail. Vasquez-Mendoza will appear in court next week.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!