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APNewsbreak: Police say immigrant defendant killed for drugs

FILE – In this Jan. 24, 2019 file photo, Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman, 19, of El Salvador, is escorted into the courtroom for his first appearance in Carson City Justice Court in Carson City, Nev. A detective says the Salvadoran immigrant charged with four Nevada murders, told the police that he robbed and killed his elderly victims during a 10-day rampage in January because he needed money to buy methamphetamine. According to a grand jury transcript obtained by The Associated Press, the Reno, the detective testified last week that Martinez-Guzman broke into tears and repeatedly called himself an “idiot” for confessing to the murders. (AP Photo/Scott Hour, File)

RENO, Nev. – A detective says a Salvadoran immigrant charged with four Nevada murders, told the police that he robbed and killed his elderly victims during a 10-day rampage in January because he needed money to buy methamphetamine.

The detective told the grand jury that indicted Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman in Reno last week, the 20-year-old, who lives in the U.S. illegally broke into tears and repeatedly called himself an “idiot” for confessing to the murders during an interrogation hours after his arrest in Carson City on Jan. 19.

According to the grand jury transcript obtained by The Associated Press, Washoe County Sheriff’s Detective Stefanie Brady testified on March 13 that Martinez-Guzman initially denied any wrongdoing, and smiling and giggling through a part of the question.

But after she confronted him with several inconsistencies in his story during a nearly three-hour interrogation, he said through a Spanish interpreter he had “done something that is unforgiveable.”

She says that he told her he shot the victims” because of the drugs.”

“He said he needed the money for the meth and it was the meth,” Brady testified, according to the 268-page transcript filed late Tuesday in Washoe district Court.

The grand jury indicted Martinez-Guzman last week on four murders with the use of a deadly weapon, three counts of burglary while in possession of a firearm and one count each of burglary, burglary during the obtaining of possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm stolen.

A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf during an arraignment Tuesday. His trial is not scheduled to begin until April 2020.

His public defence lawyer, John Arrascada, said in an e-mail to the AP he knew the grand jury transcript until Wednesday, was the revision of the and has no immediate comment.

Federal officials have said Martinez-Guzman is in the U.S. illegally, but they do not know how or when he crossed the border.

The case has drawn the attention of President Donald Trump, who says it shows the need for a wall.

District Attorneys Chris Hicks of the Washoe County and Mark Jackson of Douglas County announced last week they are seeking the death penalty, but that Martinez-Guzman’s immigration status had nothing to do with that decision.

The four dead victims are Gerald David, 81, and his 80-year-old woman, Sharon David, a prominent Reno Rodeo Association couple who had employed Martinez-Guzman as a landscaper last summer at their house, where they were found dead Jan. 16.

The police say they were shot with a .22-caliber gun that Martinez-Guzman stole from the past.

Court documents claims that Martinez-Guzman’s DNA was found on the same weapon that was used to kill Connie Koontz and Sophia Renken in their homes in Gardnerville south of Carson City.

Detective Brady told the grand jury that Martinez-Guzman was “fascinating” and “a lot of contact with the eyes” during the early stages of the interrogation at the Carson City sheriff’s office.

“He smiled and kind of giggled through some of the questions. But he was very involved in the conversation,” she said.

After they read him his Miranda rights, he “admitted that he was not having a lawyer, because he had done nothing wrong,” she said.

He indicated that he had buried “a lot of things” he found by a river in Carson City. But when they confronted him about a number of inconsistencies, his answers became slower, his posture was more slumped and he began touching his face uncontrollably.

When she asked him about a number of rods that were stolen from the David, “there was a long pause. And at that point he had lowered his head and began to weep, with long, deep breaths.”

“He talked about how he was an idiot. He repeated that a few times,” Brady testified. “He talked about how he had done something that is unforgiveable.”

“He said … something about if he tells me what he has done, it is not going to bring back the people that he shot,” she said, and then shortly after that the blame of the murder on his need for money to buy drugs.

She said that he initially denied he killed Renken, but eventually acknowledged he shot her.

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