YAKIMA, Wash. — A 24-year-old man prosecutors call the lead instigator in the beating death of a 40-year-old Granger man last year pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Tuesday in Yakima County Superior Court.
James Long was one of five people accused of beating Jose Manual Correa to death March 30, 2012. His body was found bound and gagged in an irrigation ditch near Granger, and his 2004 Dodge pickup was torched about a mile away.
Long, who also pleaded guilty to second-degree arson in the case, will be sentenced along with four co-defendants Friday in Superior Court. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of more than 22 years in prison for Long.
The four: Isaac Ivan Cruz, 21, his half-brother, Marcus A. Torres, 27, and Daisy Alvarez Valencia, 19, all of Sunnyside, and Jesse Leroy Reyes, 23, of Toppenish — all previously pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. Torres also pleaded guilty to second-degree assault while Valencia additionally pleaded guilty to obstruction.
Witnesses said Correa had been carrying some $8,000 in cash, which he said was an income tax return. Detectives said Valencia lured Correa to the home on Arrowsmith Road, northwest of Sunnyside, where he was beaten so badly that he died of his wounds. His body was put in the back of his pickup and later dumped in the irrigation ditch near Barnhart Road and State Route 22, just south of Granger.
Correa’s body was found by a passer-by three days after his truck was discovered. His arms were bound with a Nintendo cord and his feet with a lamp cord. Duct tape secured a rag that was stuffed in his mouth. An autopsy showed that he died from several blows to his head.
In addition to the five main suspects, two others were also charged in the case: Richard Perales, 49, of Sunnyside and his girlfriend, Rose Cruz Torres — the mother of defendants Cruz and Torres. Perales and his girlfriend both were convicted of rendering criminal assistance.
• Phil Ferolito can be reached at 509-577-7749 or firstname.lastname@example.org.