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APNewsBreak: Sheriff: Man admitted 2 slayings; gun used in 4

January 26, 2019
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Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman, 19, of El Salvador, listens to his public defender and interpreter during his initial appearance in Carson City Justice Court, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, in Carson City, Nev. Martinez-Guzman was arraigned on 36 felonies including two dozen weapon charges. He's a suspect in a series of four homicides earlier this month in Reno and south of Carson City in rural Gardnerville. Prosecutors say additional charges are pending. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A 19-year-old from El Salvador admitted killing a married couple in Nevada and used a handgun that he said he stole earlier from their Reno home to do it, according to a sheriff’s report obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

The report filed with a judge Thursday in Carson City says the gun is believed to be the weapon also used to kill two Nevada women in their homes in Gardnerville south of Carson City days earlier.

Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong released the declaration of probable cause Friday in response to a request from the AP.

It says Wilber Martinez-Guzman admitted using a .22-caliber revolver stolen previously from the home of Gerald and Sharon David in Reno to kill them on Jan. 16. The gun was recovered from a BMW in which authorities arrested Martinez-Guzman last Saturday in Carson City on a federal immigration charge.

He was charged Thursday with possessing weapons and selling jewelry belonging to some of the dead and is being held in the Carson City jail on $500,000 bail.

His newly appointed public defense attorney, Karin Kreizenbeck, did not immediately respond Friday to requests for comment.

A judge has set bail at $500,000 for 19-year-old Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman from El Salvador accused of possessing weapons and pawning property stolen from victims in four Nevada killings. Prosecutors say they plan to file murder charges (Jan 24)

The top prosecutors in neighboring Douglas and Washoe counties announced earlier Friday they have scheduled a news conference in Reno on Monday to discuss their plans for the prosecution of Martinez-Guzman. They said earlier he was the prime suspect in the four homicides over a one-week period.

Washoe County Sheriff’s spokesman Bob Harmon in Reno told AP Friday evening they would have no further comment until Monday.

Authorities say Martinez-Guzman is in the U.S. illegally, and the case has drawn intense national interest — including the attention of President Donald Trump. The president this week tweeted that the four killings in Nevada showed the need for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall then at the center of the federal government shutdown.

Carson City Deputy District Attorney Melanie Brantingham said prosecutors know little about Martinez-Guzman’s whereabouts before the launch of an investigation into the homicides.

“We don’t know exactly when he got here or why he came,” Brantingham told reporters after Thursday’s arraignment in Carson City Justice Court.

Sheriff Furlong said earlier Martinez-Guzman’s only known contact with authorities was a speeding ticket last February.

Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks’ spokeswoman, Michelle Bays, said this week that key questions for Hicks and Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson were whether Martinez-Guzman would be prosecuted at one time and in one place for the four cases in two jurisdictions. He could be prosecuted separately in rural Minden or in Reno, northern Nevada’s largest city.

In Carson City, he faces a Feb. 8 court hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for trial on felony and misdemeanor burglary, stolen property and weapon charges.

Pawn broker Allen Rowe, owner of several Northern Nevada Coin stores, said Martinez-Guzman was seen on video and used a passport for identification at the Carson City store where he is accused of selling jewelry allegedly stolen from some of the dead.

Court documents allege that between Jan. 12 and Jan. 17, Martinez-Guzman collected $538 by selling rings belonging to two victims.

The case alleges that, because he is in the country illegally, Martinez-Guzman was prohibited by law from having the 12 guns stolen from a couple found dead Jan. 16 in their south Reno home.

Brantingham said she could not say if any of those weapons was used in the slayings. She doesn’t anticipate the filing of any additional charges would change plans to try Martinez-Gunman on the existing charges in Carson City.

“Our charges will proceed as charged at this point,” she said.

Furlong said the rifles and shotguns were found buried off a road on the outskirts of town and the .22-caliber handgun was found in a BMW in which Martinez-Guzman was arrested last Saturday.

The murder investigation began Jan. 10, when 56-year-old Connie Koontz was found dead in her home in Gardnerville, south of Carson City. Three days later, the body of 74-year-old Sophia Renken was discovered in her home about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from Koontz’s house.

The dead Reno couple were found less than a week later. Gerald David and his wife, Sharon, who were 81 and 80, respectively, were prominent members and officers of the Reno Rodeo Association. One felony charge against Martinez-Guzman alleges he had several belt buckles bearing their names that were valued at up to $3,500.

District attorneys Jackson and Hicks did not immediately respond to requests late Friday for additional comment.

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Ritter reported from Las Vegas. Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price contributed to this report from Carson City, Nevada.

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This story has been corrected to say that Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong released the declaration of probable cause Friday in response to a request from the AP. The documents were not released in response to a public records request.

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