The Justice Files: Son witnesses his father commit three murders

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – It was the first time Justin Christopher faced his father since accusing him of a triple murder.

It happened recently during a preliminary hearing for Richard Christopher who faces multiple charges including three counts of aggravated murder.

Evidence of the murders was first discovered in 2014 when Salt Lake City Police were notified about a bloodied abandoned vehicle. When they arrived only a dog was found in the vehicle along with significant amounts of blood.

Police soon learned the SUV belonged to Danny Gallegos. His mother notified police the day before that he was missing.

“There was a significant amount of blood and bullet holes in the car,” she told ABC4 in 2014. “So we don’t know. That’s all we know.”

From the outset, police were puzzled as to what took place. But they collected the blood and gathered other evidence.

They soon discovered confirmed that not only the blood belonged to Gallegos but there was evidence of two other men.

Braden Emerson and Levi Collins have also disappeared. They were longtime friends of Gallegos and there was evidence of their presence in the vehicle.

But it soon became a cold case as all leads dried up.

In 2017, Justin Christopher was to be sentenced for money laundering in federal court.

But during the proceedings, his attorney notified the judge that Christopher was working on a deal with state prosecutors about the three unsolved murders.

He said Justin Christopher allegedly witnessed his own father, Richard Christopher shoot and kill the three men.

Police and prosecutors no longer were looking at a cold case murder. They got a break and it lead to charges.

“For the last four years, the Salt Lake police and the district attorney have all worked together and today the result of that effort is the filing of these criminal charges,” Sim Gill, the district attorney told reporters in 2019.

Richard Christopher was charged with three counts of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, obstruction of justice, and the desecration of a body.

Justin Christopher was granted immunity as long as he testified against his dad.

Recently Justin Christopher lived up to his end of the deal during his father’s preliminary hearing. With his father also present, Christopher offered details about one of the murders.

“Out of the corner of my eye I heard a loud bang and I saw my father, my dad holding a gun over …(?) dead.” said Christopher who was referring to the Gallegos murder. “Danny’s eyes rolled in the back of his head. He went backwards and he passed away.”

He testified that his father went outside and asked Collins and Emerson for a ride. They were unaware of what had transpired inside Richard Christopher’s so-called office. Justin said his father got inside the vehicle and was in the backseat when he shot them from behind.

Justin Christopher said the bodies were taken to a pet crematorium in Utah County to dispose of the bodies.

His testimony against his father was enough to convince a district court judge that Richard Christopher should stand trial.

He was immediately arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the charges. No trial date has been set.

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