Washoe County detectives involved in Martinez Guzman case among those honored at ceremony

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 12:07 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Recognizing the commitment to public safety, a crowd gathered Wednesday night at the Washoe County Commission Chambers to pay tribute to members of the Sheriff’s Office and a civilian for their work.

During the ceremony’s awards portion, more than a dozen detectives were presented with the Meritorious Unit Citation award for their efforts bringing to justice Wilber Ernesto Martinez Guzman, who pleaded guilty to the murders of Jerry and Sherri David, Connie Koontz and Sophia Renken.

The killings rocked Northern Nevada in 2019 and the hunt for clues spanned three counties and multiple police agencies.

“It was kind of a timely investigation, because we felt like it was happening every few days so we felt like we were running against the clock,” said Stefanie Brady, lead detective at Washoe County.

On Jan. 19 of that year, police in Carson City found and arrested Martinez Guzman in the parking lot of the Carson Mall. Officials determined he had been living in the Carson City area for about a year. Authorities were able to find the now 23-year-old by tracking Koontz’s stolen Apple Watch that was given to Guzman’s mother.

Brady completed the recorded interview that led to Martinez Guzman’s confession. For her leadership in the case, she was awarded with the Meritorious Service Medal. A moment she described as bittersweet.

“It’s kind of a hard award to get... at the loss of somebody’s family member,” she said. “In this case four family members. I’m proud that we were able to get justice for the families.”

Some of the David’s family members were present during the ceremony to thank Brady and the rest of the team.

“That’s the bond of helping that family go through that tragic process and healing process,” said Washoe County Sheriff, Darin Balaam. “For them to take time out of their night to come, unfortunately relive a little bit of a tragedy they had to go through, but to be here to thank Stefanie, that’s very important.”

Among those honored tonight was Kim Frankel, who is in a legal battle with the county after she was denied prompt treatment for her dystonia caused by injuries on duty.

“It was extremely important for me to show my support for my team even though I’m no longer employed by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office,” she said. “These are my team members and I worked alongside them and it was their day.”

More than 100 members of WCSO were awarded for acts of bravery, investigative skill and lifesaving actions.

Martinez Guzman is facing four life sentences without the possibility for parole.

Meritorious Unit Citation: Awarded to any bureau, division, section, subdivision, unit or squad of members of this Office who have displayed extraordinary intelligence, service, crime prevention, response to critical incidents and the like.

Meritorious Service Medal: Awarded to members who, while acting in an official capacity, perform superior accomplishments that result in significant contributions to the efficient operation of the Office and/or the good of the community.