Murder Charges filed in Douglas Co. against Wilber Martinez Guzman
MINDEN, Nev. (KOLO) - UPDATE OCT. 11 3:00 P.M. Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson filed murder charges Monday against the man accused in the murders of four people spanning two different northern Nevada counties.
Previously, Douglas County and Washoe County prosecutors had sought to try Wilber Martinez Guzman in Reno for the January 2019 murders of Connie Koontz and Sophia Renken in Douglas County and Gerald and Sharon David in Washoe County. A split decision ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court, however, will require Martinez Guzman to be tried separately in the two counties.
In Douglas County, Martinez Guzman is charged with one count of First Degree Murder with the Use of a Deadly Weapon and one counts of Burglary While in Possession of a Deadly Weapon in connection with the murder of Koontz. He also faces one count of First Degree Murder with the Use of a Deadly Weapon and one counts of Burglary While in Possession of a Deadly Weapon in connection with the murder of Renken.
“The Supreme Court’s decision only requires that two trials will have to be conducted, one in Washoe County and one in Douglas County,” said Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks. “It does not mean that Guzman will evade prosecution for the crimes he is alleged to have committed. While this was a split decision, we respect the Courts ruling and acknowledge it represents a setback in the timely resolution of this case. Regardless, the prosecution of Guzman remains my office’s highest priority. We will continue our steadfast pursuit for justice for the victims of these heinous crimes.”
District Attorney Mark Jackson added, “We have been, and remain, in constant contact with the families of the victims and they know our commitment to seeking justice for the senseless murders of their loved ones. The Supreme Court’s ruling today does not change our commitment. Whether it be one trial or four trials, justice will be served.”
While both district attorneys hoped to try all the crimes in a single trial, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 2 in favor of the defense’s venue challenge, with Justice Pickering and Justice Parraguire stating that one trial increases the potential for inconsistent results because the State must prosecute the same facts twice.
The dissent further stated that the majority opinion side-stepped legal precedent in Nevada and that separating the case into two trials in two separate counties is legally unnecessary and an unfair imposition on the victims’ families and the court system.
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