YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima County prosecutors are expecting to wrap up their case Monday in the murder trial of a Granger man accused of killing and dismembering his wife.
Jaime Munguia Alejandre, 44, is charged with second-degree murder and unlawfully disposing of human remains in connection with the death of Maria Gonzalez-Castillo.
Yakima County sheriff’s detective Brad Martin, the lead investigator in the case, testified about the investigation Friday before a Yakima County Superior Court jury. He described finding the .22-caliber rifle authorities allege Alejandre used to deliver a fatal blow to Gonzalez-Castillo’s head sometime in the early hours of June 2, 2017.
Martin told jurors how he and another detective found the gun in the closet of the bedroom the couple shared. He also took a metal pipe from the scene as a possible murder weapon.
But an autopsy determined that Gonzalez-Castillo’s skull was broken when she was struck with the butt of a rifle, Martin said, and the pipe did not need to be examined further.
Dr. Jeffery Reynolds, a medical examiner contracted by the county, told jurors earlier that the skull fracture likely caused Gonzalez-Castillo’s death in a matter of minutes.
Prosecutors accused Alejandre of killing his wife following an argument and dragging her body out the bedroom window to a garbage-filled burn pit in the backyard, where he dismembered and burned her remains as seven of their eight children slept in their Nass Road mobile home.
Gonzalez-Castillo’s two oldest children discovered her remains in the burn pit that morning as they looked for her. She was identified through dental records, while DNA evidence connected her remains with blood found on the bedroom mattress, the window frame, the ground and a telephone utility box on the side of the home, authorities said.
Martin said Friday that detectives brought in an investigator from the prosecutor’s victim’s advocate office to interview the younger child, but he said the only information that came from those interviews was the access code to one of the family’s phones.
Information on Alejandre’s phone led them to Erika Lopez-Gonzalez, who testified earlier that Alejandre approached her at Legends Casino and Hotel and tried to ask her out a couple of months before his wife was killed.
The trial before Judge Gayle Harthcock started Nov. 29 and is expected to last two weeks.