YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima County prosecutors have filed second-degree murder charges against two people in the slaying of a Sunnyside man last week.
The suspects, 22-year-old Elliot Leroy White and 20-year-old Guillermina Sanchez-Cardenas, were arrested last weekend and are being held in the Yakima County jail on $1 million bail.
They are accused of killing Alberto Gabriel Martinez, 23, whose body was found June 21 in the trunk of an abandoned car south of Toppenish. An autopsy determined he died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
Investigators said a combination of cellphone records and statements by Martinez’s family led to Sanchez, who subsequently made incriminating statements about leaving home to meet Martinez in the same remote area off U.S. Highway 97 where his body was found.
Sanchez denied involvement in the slaying, but said her boyfriend, White, was upset that she had been talking to another man and accompanied her on the trip, investigators said.
In addition, a law enforcement officer found both of them in the area the night before Martinez’s body was discovered and gave them a ride, investigators said.
Authorities caught up to White on Sunday after a Toppenish police officer responding to a report of a car theft at East Second Street and Division Avenue recognized him.
White led police on a brief chase but crashed into a tree and ran away on foot before numerous officers formed a perimeter and arrested him. He was wearing shoes belonging to Martinez, who was found shoeless, investigators said.
White, who has a history of robbery arrests, is also being held on charges of car theft and eluding related to the chase.
Court records show he was released on $50,000 bail earlier this month while awaiting trial on a 2012 car theft charge.
The Martinez slaying was the second of three homicides in the Lower Valley in barely a week.
Two suspects are under arrest in the first, that of 23-year-old Preston Yahne of Prosser, who was apparently slain June 14 in a drug-deal dispute or ripoff.
The case was similar to the Martinez slaying in that his remains were found in the trunk of a car and the suspects are a young man and woman.
No arrests have been reported in connection with the third, the shooting death near Toppenish of 20-year-old Pedro Marquez-Villa, whose last known address was in Whatcom County.