Police: Suspect's children witnessed murder of tow truck driver

Posted: Updated:
Billy West, 27 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Billy West, 27 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Police said Monday that they have arrested the man they believe shot and killed a 26-year-old tow truck driver as he worked in Phoenix Friday, and according to court paperwork, the suspect's two young children saw everything.

Police arrested Billy Wayne West Jr. Saturday afternoon after he contacted a detective on the case and agreed to meet at a CVS store.

An anonymous caller was the first to summon police to an apartment complex near 32nd Street and McDowell Road Friday night.

When officers arrived on the scene, they found a tow truck in the parking lot. Alfredo Palencia, 26, was dead in the driver's seat. He had been shot in the head. Police say video leads them to believe that West was the gunman.

A second 911 caller reported hearing a group of people argue about a vehicle being towed right before the shooting. A 1999 Ford Expedition was hooked up to Palencia's tow truck.

According to the probable cause for arrest statement for West, surveillance video showed him following a woman down the stairs toward Palencia and his tow truck.

"He appears to remove a handgun from his waistband with his right hand and then point the weapon at the driver side window of the tow truck," court documents read. "The tow truck stops and the defendant is shown on the video at the rear of the tow truck attempting to work the controls, as if trying to release the Ford Expedition."

Police said the video showed West going back to an apartment where he had been with his children, and then leaving the complex.

Those kids were among those interviewed by detectives.

"Both children made statements indicating that they witnessed their father, Billy W. West Jr., shoot the tow truck driver in the head, and then leave the area," according to court documents. "Video surveillance corroborates that the children were present near the tow truck when the shooting occurred."

Two more witnesses later identified West from a photo lineup.

West turned himself in without incident and claimed to have no recollection of the shooting because he had been drinking, but he did say that he "and his children had gone over to the apartments to attend a barbecue with some family."

Detectives showed him an image of the shooter taken from the surveillance video.

"...[H] states, 'It looks like it could be me,'" according to court paperwork.

West now faces a charge of first-degree murder.

A secured appearance bond of $750,000 was set at his initial court appearance. Should be post that, West will be subjected to electronic monitoring.

[WATCH RAW VIDEO: West's initial court appearance]

The commissioner who presided over West's IA said he was already on probation. Maricopa County Superior Court records show a petition to revoke that probation, which was for unrelated felony drug charges from last summer, was filed Monday.

West is due back in court for a status conference on Oct. 16, and then a preliminary hearing on Oct. 18.

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