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Cousins face court in separate murder cases
Two men identified by police as cousins got temporary reprieves Tuesday in Yuma courts, where one faces sentencing in a fatal shooting and another may eventually be charged in a separate murder.
Manuel Salazar, 20, arrested Friday at his residence in connection with a New Year's Day murder, was charged only with a gang-related offense. But a prosecutor says he could be indicted later by a grand jury in the killing.
Meanwhile, sentencing of Martin Salazar, 18, who pleaded guilty to one felony count of participating in a criminal street gang in connection with a killing earlier in the year, had his scheduled Tuesday sentencing postponed until later this month due to a matter over his residency.
Both Salazars are also identified by police as being members of the East Side Naked City street gang.
Manuel Salazar was expected to be formally charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, burglary and theft in the murder of 46-year-old Gene Norman Snyder, whose body was found inside his residence on New Year's Day.
However, no complaint was filed against him in the murder during his arraignment Tuesday afternoon in Yuma Justice Court.
He was, however, charged with threatening and intimidating and participating or assisting in a criminal street gang in an unrelated case.
Prosecutor Karolyn Kaczorowski explained to the judge that the reason the county attorney's office did not file a complaint against Manuel Salazar in the murder is that her office wanted more time to review the case.
Kaczorowski added that the case will be sent to the grand jury and that she anticipates it will return an indictment charging him in the crime, based on the evidence.
"We have strong physical evidence putting him at the scene of the crime, including evidence on or near a weapon," Kaczorowski said. "Also, his alibi for the day could not be verified."
She also asked the court to increase Manuel Salazar's bond on the gang-related charges, which the judge did, raising it to $110,465. He remains in custody on that bond and those charges.
Martin Salazar, who was arrested by police after an investigation into a fatal shooting at the Yuma Palms shopping center Feb. 14, may not be going to prison for his role in the deadly incident, but he may not be going home either when he is sentenced later this month.
In the pre-sentence report prepared by the Yuma County Probation Department, it was recommended that Martin Salazar not be allowed to remain at his residence after his sentencing, due to possible further gang influences there.
"We aren't saying there is or there is not, but there is the potential," said Kaczorowski during a hearing at Yuma County Superior Court. "The intent is that he is in the most appropriate place so he can succeed on probation."
The pre-sentence report recommends that he instead reside at the Crossroads Mission until a more suitable residence can be found.
"I have never seen this done before," said attorney John Minore, who is representing Martin Salazar.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, he could be sentenced to a
prison term ranging from three years to 12-1/2 years, with the presumptive sentence being five years.
However, the plea agreement stipulates that he be sentenced to five years of intensive probation. Superior Court Judge Mark Reeves accepted the stipulation during Tuesday's hearing.
A charge of assault against Martin Salazar was also dismissed under the terms of the plea agreement.
Reeves postponed the sentencing until Sept. 24 at 1:30 p.m., at which time he will also hear arguments from the attorneys regarding the residency matter and make a ruling.
Martin Salazar was arrested earlier this year as part of Yuma police's ongoing investigation into the Feb. 14 murder of 18-year-old David Duran at the Yuma Palms Regional Center.
According to the initial YPD investigation, a fight broke out shortly before 8:30 p.m. in front of Harkins Theatres among several members of rival gangs.
The disturbance moved to the area behind Pac Sun, where Duran was shot. Duran made his way to the front of the business before succumbing to his wound. He was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Martin Salazar was at the mall at the time and became involved in the fight when it broke out.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.