CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A 20-year-old Salvadoran accused of killing four people in Nevada last month is going before a justice of the peace who will consider whether he should be tried initially on burglary charges related to items he is accused of stealing from the victims.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled in Carson City Justice Court Friday to determine whether there’s enough evidence so Wilber Martinez-Guzman can be ordered to stand trial for burglary, possession of stolen property and obtaining money by false pretenses.
The stolen property includes jewelry and a .22-caliber revolver that prosecutors say Martinez-Guzman told investigators he stole from a Reno couple less than two weeks before he fatally shot them with it at their home on Jan. 16.
Prosecutors have said those victims, 81-year-old Gerald David and 80-year-old Sharon David, employed him as a landscaper at their Reno property last summer.
Federal immigration officials say Martinez-Guzman entered the United States illegally but they haven’s disclosed when or where.
District attorneys in Douglas and Washoe County say they intend to extradite Martinez-Guzman to Reno eventually to face the murder charges in the deaths of the Davids and two other women who were fatally shot a week earlier at their homes 45 miles (72 kilometers) away in rural Gardnerville south of Carson City.
They formally charged Martinez-Guzman Jan. 28 when they filed an affidavit in Reno Justice Court that says he admitted killing the Davids and that his DNA was found on the revolver also used to kill Connie Koontz and Sophia Renken in their homes. Koontz was found dead Jan. 10. Renken’s body was found Jan. 13.
Martinez-Guzman was arrested Jan. 19 in Carson City. Since then, he’s been jailed there on $500,000 bail on the charges that he possessed weapons and other items stolen from the Davids and sold jewelry belonging to Gerald David and another victim at a pawn shop in Carson City.
The Davids were prominent Reno Rodeo Association members, and Martinez-Guzman is accused of possessing several Western-style belt buckles bearing their names stolen from their home in addition to the murder weapon and a cache of other firearms.
President Donald Trump tweeted shortly after Martinez-Guzman’s arrest that the four killings in Nevada showed the need for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.
This week, he invited the Davids’ daughter, Debra Bissel, granddaughter and great granddaughter to attend his State of the Union address as his guest, and introduced them during the speech in the U.S. House chambers Tuesday night while talking about “Americans killed by criminal aliens.”
“Just three weeks ago Debra’s parents Gerald and Sharon were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada home by an illegal alien,” Trump said. “No one should every have to suffer the horrible heartache they have had to endure.”
Paige Hughes, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday that Martinez-Guzman has no prior criminal or immigration history.
She said he’s a citizen of El Salvador who entered the U.S. “unlawfully on an unknown date and location.” She said ICE has lodged a formal detailer with local law enforcement that — in the event he was freed from jail — would allow them to hold him in custody for 48 hours while ICE assumes custody to determine whether he should be deported.
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has declined to discuss his immigration status.
“What someone’s status is in this country has nothing to do with how we are proceeding in this case,” Hicks told reporters last week.
By SCOTT SONNER
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