Gregorio Leon III, age 56, has been sentenced to thirty (30) years in prison for the murder of Arturo Bravo Santos, 28, which occurred on Valentine’s Day at a Park and Ride location in Lexington County in 2016.
This case was prosecuted by Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard and Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes. The three-week trial began on Monday, June 19th in Lexington County General Sessions and concluded with the guilty verdict on Thursday, July 6th.
The jury convicted Leon of Murder and Possession of a Weapon during the commission of a Violent Crime after less than three hours of deliberations. The sentence was imposed by Chief Administrative Judge Walton J. McLeod, IV. Leon is not eligible for parole.
On the night of February 14, 2016, at approximately 8:22 pm, Leon left his San Jose restaurant location on Highway 1 in Lexington County and drove to the Park and Ride located at 110 Riverchase Way near the intersection of Corley Mill Road and Highway 378. Evidence presented at the trial established that Leon had previously placed a tracking device underneath the hood of the Mercedes SUV vehicle belonging to his wife, Rachel Leon. The tracking device had a corresponding phone application (“app”) which Leon had downloaded to his smartphone. The tracking app allowed Leon to pinpoint the exact location of his wife vehicle during the evening hours of Valentine’s Day.
Video surveillance obtained from the Park and Ride location depicts Leon arriving to the scene at a high rate of speed in his Range Rover SUV. Rachel Leon and the victim, Arturo Bravo Santos, were already present at the parking lot and were seated in the backseat of a 2014 Toyota Tundra truck. Evidence obtained during the investigation confirmed that Rachel Leon and Santos were involved in a romantic relationship.
Leon can be seen on video emerging from the Range Rover and approaching the Tundra, then drawing a handgun from his pocket when he reaches the hood area of the truck. Within seconds, he approaches the rear door of the truck and opens it. Leon fired multiple shots into the back seat of the truck, fatally injuring Santos.
Leon can then be observed fleeing the scene at a high rate of speed in his Range Rover. Rachel Leon was left behind at the scene with the body of Santos. Although Rachel Leon was not injured by gunfire, evidence, in this case, indicates that Leon believed he shot both his wife and Santos.
Approximately eleven (11) minutes after the shooting, Leon made a 911 call after having placed calls to an attorney and his son. During the trial, the State presented audio recordings of the 911 call in which Leon stated, “I shot my wife and her lover … I shot ‘em both.” Leon further told the 911 dispatcher, “They were sitting in the car messing around, and I pulled up, and I found them, and I shot ‘em.”
Leon threw the .357 revolver used in the murder into a wooded area near the 3400 block of Augusta Road. He later turned himself into the Lexington Police Department after law enforcement began efforts to locate him at his residence and his businesses.
SLED Crime Scene Investigators processed the scene and determined that 4 rounds had been fired by the .357 revolver used by Leon. The victim was not armed and had no weapons nearby in his vehicle.
Additional testimony presented at trial established that Leon and a co-conspirator were involved in paying a witness five hundred dollars ($500.00) to make false statements regarding the victim, including false allegations that Santos engaged in violent acts and was a gang member. The State offered evidence through the D.E.A. and other law enforcement agencies to establish that Santos had no history of violent crimes or gang affiliations.
Following the verdict, 11th Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, “Despite all the delays in bringing this case to trial, our office never lost focus on seeking justice for the victim and holding Mr. Leon accountable. We are grateful to our jurors who patiently and diligently followed the evidence.”
Hubbard further commented, “We are grateful for the dedication of Chief Terrence Green and his officers, especially Inv. Marc Miramontes who served as lead investigator on this case. We also appreciate the instrumental work of the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in this case, including the work of Special Agent Phillip Turner in overseeing the independent investigation of witness tampering.”
Leon will be transported to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin immediate service of the sentence.