|Murder victim's daughter speaks|
Sunia Tajik, daughter of murder victim Morteza Tajik, talks about her father's life and what he meant to his family and friends. Loaned photos
|Murder suspects charged|
Two of three suspects arrested in connection with the murder of Morteza Tajik, a NAPA Auto Parts delivery driver, were charged with 2 counts of 1st degree murder and 1 count of participating in a criminal street gang. Video by James Gilbert
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Charges filed in Somerton murder
SOMERTON - A pair of suspected gang members from Somerton have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with last week's slaying of NAPA Auto Parts delivery driver Morteza Tajik. No charges, however, were filed against a third gang member.
Jose Gonzalez Nunez, 20, and Israel Lopez, 21, whom police call known members of the Soma street gang, were each charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of participation in a criminal street gang in Somerton Justice Court on Tuesday.
"Our family is devastated," Morteza Tajik's daughter Sunia, said in an interview at the Yuma Sun several hours later. "These people murdered (Tajik) for nothing. They savagely attacked him and left him there to die. He didn't deserve this."
Daniel Torres, 18, had originally been arrested on two counts of hindering prosecution and one count of participating in a criminal street gang, but was informed by the judge during his brief court appearance that no complaint had been filed against him and that he would be released later in the afternoon.
Somerton Justice of the Peace Manny Figueroa, who presided over all three hearings, also told Torres that just because a complaint wasn't filed during Tuesday's hearing, it didn't mean one couldn't be filed later. Police have up to a year to file any charges in the case against Torres, Figueroa said.
Bond was set at $3 million for both Nunez and Lopez. Prosector Steve Kiholm, of the Yuma County Attorney's Office, had asked that the bond amounts be raised due to the nature of the crime and that he considered Nunez and Lopez to be flight risks.
"This individual participated in stabbing the victim to death," Kiholm said during Lopez's hearing.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Somerton police said they were still searching for another suspect in the slaying, Pedro Raya, 17.
Transported from the Yuma County jail to Somerton for their court hearings by sheriff deputies, the three suspects showed no emotion as they were each pulled from squad cars and led inside the courtroom. Nunez, however, attempted to throw what appeared to have been a gang sign before entering the building.
Both Sunia Tajik and her sister Sarah addressed the court, with Sunia speaking during Nunez's hearing and Sarah during Lopez's.
"If I could watch them die I would," Sarah Tajik said in what turned out to be an extremely emotional outburst. "They don't deserve to live."
Several hours later Sarah told the Yuma Sun, "I was so angry. They showed no remorse, or anything on their faces. I didn't know what I was going to say. I just want them to pay for what they did."
Both sister spoke about how senseless the crime was and how the murder has destroyed their family.
Court records indicate that Tajik was stabbed multiple times and that Nunez allegedly struck him on the head several times with a baseball bat.
According to Somerton police, Tajik was found dead in the 100 block of South Congress Avenue Thursday morning. A Somerton police officer on a routine patrol found the body at 2:47 a.m.
Tajik's slaying is the first committed in Somerton since December 1991, according to Somerton police.
Nunez's next court date is a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 17 at 2 p.m., while Lopez's is scheduled for June 16, also at 2 p.m.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.