Tucson police make arrest in two 13-year-old homicide cases

Updated: Nov. 17, 2017 at 3:16 PM MST
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Alex Grijalva (Source: KOLD News 13)
Alex Grijalva (Source: KOLD News 13)
Richard Vega (Source: KOLD News 13)
Richard Vega (Source: KOLD News 13)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson police announced on Friday, Nov. 17, that an arrest has been made in two cold cases from 2004.

According to a news release, 38-year-old Damion Andre Smith was arrested on Thursday, Nov. 16, in Atlanta and is awaiting extradition to Pima County.

Police in 2004 had named Smith as the suspect in two homicides: the death of 35-year-old Alex Grijalva on June 7 and the stabbing death of 24-year-old Richard Vega on Dec. 31.

Police said Smith has been living in Atlanta under the name of his brother, Steven Smith, who has been in prison since 1993.

Grijalva was found in an apartment in the 8000 block of East Lakeside Drive. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma.

Vega was stabbed to death during an altercation in an apartment in the 6400 block of East Golf Links Road.

Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus said in the news release, "The partnership between the Tucson Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service sends a clear message to fugitives that city, county and state lines will not limit the reach of law enforcement and our goal of bringing violent criminals to justice. This arrest will hopefully bring some needed closure to the families affected by the actions of Damion Smith."

On Oct. 16, the U.S. Marshals Arizona WANTED Violent Offender Task Force joined the hunt for Smith.

Three days later, a judge in Arizona issued an arrest warrant for Smith for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

U.S. Marshals determined that Smith was possibly using the alias in Georgia, and police there had pulled him over for speeding in April. He used the alias in that encounter to avoid apprehension, but Marshals used body camera footage of the stop to confirm Smith's true identity.

He was taken into custody at a home in North Atlanta early on Thursday morning.

CRIME TEAM: The KOLD News 13 mugshots of the month are available HERE.

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