SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Four years later, a Utah man and former security guard has been sentenced to prison for murder after shooting and killing a homeless man who was walking away from him.
Timothy Richard Lutes, 31, has been convicted on the charges of second-degree felony murder and felony discharge of a firearm. He will serve two to 20 years in Utah State Prison for the murder charge and five years to life for felony discharge of a firearm, both sentences running consecutively.
Lutes, who was 26 years old at the time, was reportedly on-duty when he saw a “trespasser,” later identified as Thomas Stanfield, 54.
Police said Lutes began shining his flashlight on Stanfield while he was asleep, which started an argument and physical altercation between the two.
Surveillance video reportedly shows Stanfield walking away several times, though “each time contact was reinitiated by Timothy,” according to a probable cause statement. “At one point, Lutes knocks Mr. Stanfield to the ground and punches him several times while he is on the ground.”
At the end of the incident, Stanfield started to walk away, and police said Lutes fired his weapon, shooting him twice in the back.
Stanfield died at the scene.
The same year, Stanfield’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lutes and the security company that hired him, Citadel-Chapman Security. The family’s attorney, Robert Sykes, claimed Stanfield was afraid Lutes was going to hurt him and tried to walk away after he was confronted.
“Prior to the shooting, [Stanfield] is standing upright, facing away or walking away from Lutes. While facing away from Lutes, [he] took several steps further away from Lutes. Lutes then used his firearm and shot Thomas two times in the upper left side of his back,” the lawsuit states.
Sykes said Lutes claimed that before the shooting, Stanfield had removed his firearm from his holster and “pointed his own gun at him,” but Sykes says that never happened.
“Video cameras which captured this event prove that claim by Lutes to be false. Thomas never had the firearm that belonged to Lutes, and never pointed it at him,” the lawsuit states.
Stanfield’s mother, Connie Elison, and Stanfield’s brother, Grant Stanfield, were also in attendance as Sykes announced the lawsuit against the security company. “I can’t believe what happened that day,” said Elison. “I am still in shock. I believe my son was murdered. I just want justice.”
She said her son had a difficult life and returned to Utah in hopes of finding employment. She claimed Stanfield was at the Workforce Services building at 5:30 a.m. “to be first in line.” That’s when police said Lutes confronted Stanfield.
Sykes said they filed the lawsuit prior to any criminal charges to stop Stanfield’s estranged daughter from benefiting from his death. Sykes said the daughter had recently filed an action in court that named her as the rightful heir to his estate, but Sykes said she had not had any involvement with her dad in ten years. He also said she is his biological daughter but was adopted by another family member at a young age.
A segment of the surveillance video was released back in 2019.