Prosecutors in Nevada said Monday they’ve filed murder charges that could bring the death penalty against a 19-year-old Salvadoran immigrant in four recent killings carried out over a six-day span.
Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman also has been charged with five counts of burglary in the latest criminal complaint, which was filed to a court in Reno along with an affidavit and warrant for his arrest.
Washoe DA Chris Hicks and Douglas DA Mark Jackson say Martinez-Guzman will be jointly tried on charges from both counties in Washoe County, with both DAs prosecuting. They say all the killings are so closely tied together that a single trial is the most efficient way to go, though combining charges from multiple jurisdictions is an unusual step for Nevada law.
Martinez-Guzman told investigators he used a .22-caliber revolver stolen from the property of 81-year-old Gerald David and 80-year-old Sharon David less than two weeks before he killed them on Jan. 16.
"The lady was coming out. I got scared and shot at her," Martinez-Guzman is quoted telling a Washoe County detective in an affidavit filed in Reno on Monday. It alleged that he first broke into "outbuildings" or a trailer on the sprawling David property on Jan. 3 and Jan. 4 and made off with a cache of rifles and the handgun.
Martinez-Guzman admitted also killing Gerald David, and the affidavit alleges that his DNA was found on the .22-caliber gun 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.
The case has drawn national attention, with President Trump tweeting last week that the murders showed the need for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, which was at the center of the recent partial government shutdown.
No decision has been made about whether the death penalty will be pursued in this case.