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Suspect in baseball bat killing returned to U.S
Manuel Bustamante, wanted in connection with the April 18 murder of 33-year-old Kendal Smith in a case of mistaken identity, is now behind bars in Yuma County.
Bustamante, 30, was arrested in San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., last month. He was turned over to U.S. authorities Friday night and booked into the Yuma County jail.
He was arraigned Saturday afternoon in Yuma Justice Court, where he was charged with six felonies, including two counts of first-degree murder.
Bustamante also was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, conspiracy to sell narcotics, misconduct involving weapons, possession of dangerous drugs and transportation or importation of narcotics.
He was also booked on three misdemeanor warrants out of Yuma Municipal Court for failure to appear on other, unrelated charges.
Since he was arrested on warrants, Bustamante's next court appearance will be 8:30 a.m. Monday in Yuma County Superior Court, where he will enter pleas to the offenses he has been charged with.
Bustamante was arrested in Mexico in May on charges of attempted homicide, stemming from a shooting he was allegedly involved in while on the run from Yuma sheriff's deputies. Mexican authorities said Bustamante allegedly shot an adult male multiple times while trying to rob the subject of drugs, said the Yuma County Sheriff's Office.
Being held in a Mexican jail, Bustamante wasn't due to be returned to the United States until the case there had been completed.
Three other suspects — Ruben Ornelas, Jonathon Roger Ochoa and Elsey Valenzuela — also have also charged in Smith's murder. Bustamante's sister, Blanca, has also been charged with one count of hindering prosecution
As a result of the continuing investigation into the murder, two additional suspects have also been identified as persons of interest. Sheriff investigators and U.S. marshals are looking for Reva Renee Jackson, 35, of Yuma. She is described as 5 feet 2 inches tall, 150 pounds, with long dark hair and a medium complexion.
Also being sought is Jose Fabela Campos, 23, of Yuma. He is described as 6 feet 1 inch tall, 180 pounds, with short dark hair, a goatee and a mustache.
At about 9:13 p.m. April 18, deputies were dispatched to the 2500 block of 15th Place in reference to a disturbance involving six subjects armed with baseball bats.
Deputies were on scene in less than nine minutes, only to find Smith with blunt force trauma to the head. He was taken unconscious to Yuma Regional Medical Center and later transferred to St. Joseph's Medical Center in Phoenix, where he died.
All of the suspects had fled the scene before deputies arrived. A bloody baseball bat, however, was recovered in the area.
What deputies learned through their investigation is that prior to the murder, two people allegedly stole some drugs from Valenzuela. Smith, as it turned out, was not one of them.
Valenzuela then told her boyfriend, Bustamante, about what happened and he, along with Ochoa, Ornelas and possibly three others allegedly went to the residence in the 2500 block of 15th Place, where they thought they would find the people who had stolen the drugs.
Once there, they were confronted by Smith, who was then allegedly bludgeoned to death.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.