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Man arrested in killing, decapitation pleads no contest

ELKO – An Idaho man arrested in the 2016 murder and decapitation of a Ryndon woman pleaded no contest to first degree murder in a plea deal.

Jose de Jesus Segundo-Huizar, 47, made his plea before Judge Al Kacin in Elko District Court through an interpreter Monday. The plea agreement stipulates that the District Attorney’s office will drop five counts related to the case and not file additional charges.

Segundo-Huizar faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for allegedly killing Carmen Magallanes-Sanchez on or about Aug. 24, 2016. He is not eligible for probation and will be incarcerated in the Nevada State Prison, according to District Attorney Tyler Ingram.

Ingram said if the case were tried, the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Segundo-Huizar “with malice aforethought, willfully and with premeditation and deliberation, unlawfully killed another human being, a category A felony.”

The charge comes with three sentencing options: life without the possibility of parole; life with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum of 20 years; or he could be sentenced to 50 years in prison and eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 20 years.

Court documents read by Kacin said that the victim was struck “on or near her head ... or on another part of her body as yet unknown … [using] a hammer or similar object” before being decapitated.

The five counts dropped included an alternate charge of second degree murder, burglary while in the possession of a firearm or deadly weapon, a category B felony; first degree kidnapping resulting in substantial bodily harm with the use of a deadly weapon, a category A felony; child abuse, a category B felony; and destroying or concealing evidence, a misdemeanor.

At the time of the incident, a child about 9 months old was alleged to have been left in a crib for about 12 hours, resulting in the subsequent child abuse charge, according to previous reports.

During the hearing, Segundo-Huizar admitted to not being a United States citizen, a factor that could result “up to and including removal and deportation from the U.S.,” said Kacin, before asking the defendant if he understood the consequences of his plea.

“I understand perfectly,” Segundo-Huizar said through his court translator, Eloise Mendoza.

Since being incarcerated in October, Segundo-Huizar waived his preliminary hearing in January in Elko Justice Court and initially pleaded not guilty in February.

Magallanes-Sanchez was reported missing by her boyfriend Aug. 24, 2016 and her part of her body was found by a hunter in a shallow grave off Mountain City Highway 30 miles north of Elko on Sept. 4 and identified by fingerprints 11 days later, according to previous reports.

Segundo-Huizar was tracked to Idaho by sheriff’s detectives where they found him working as a ranch hand. He was arrested with assistance from the Idaho State Police.

In October, Segundo-Huizar led Elko County Sheriff’s detectives to the location he buried the victim’s head. Since then he has been held in Elko County Jail without bail.

Authorities said at the time a motive for the killing was unclear, but that Segundo-Huizar admitted to an off-and-on relationship with the victim who was also living with someone else at the time of her death.

In a court appearance shortly after his arrest, it was mentioned that the suspect lived with his wife in Jerome, Idaho, and had two grown children in Mexico.

Public Defender Kriston Hill, representing Segundo-Huizar, and Ingram both said that the sentencing hearing could take up to two to three hours to allow for victim impact statements.

A date for sentencing has not been set.

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Black bears back in eastern Nevada after 80-year absence

RENO (AP) — More than 500 black bears have returned to parts of their historic range in the Great Basin of Nevada where the species disappeared about 80 years ago, scientists say.

A new study says genetic testing confirms the bears are making their way east from the Sierra ranges north and south of Lake Tahoe along the California line.

In some cases, recent generations have moved hundreds of miles to sites near the Utah line, marking a rare example of large mammals recolonizing areas where they’d been wiped out.

“The recovery of large carnivores is relatively rare globally,” said Jon Beckmann, a conservation scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Bozeman, Montana, who co-authored the new study.

It concludes that bear populations originating in western Nevada mountain ranges have the genetic diversity necessary to sustain the new subpopulations.

The findings are the result of a partnership between wildlife management and geneticists based on bear hair and blood samples taken over 20 years, said Jason Malaney, an environmental scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno, who led the study.

He wrote that the study represents “one of the few empirical examples of genetic consequences of natural recolonization in large-bodied mammals.”

Carl Lackey, a Nevada state biologist, and Marjorie Matocq, a UNR scientist, co-authored the study.

The data provides ammunition for advocates of increased protection of wildlife corridors for a number of species in the basin — a vast stretch of desert and mountain ranges that covers most of Nevada, half of Utah and parts of Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and California.

The study says the results are timely and relevant because of projected climate change and the effects of human population growth.

“As the human footprint expands over time in the region, this level of genetic connection among various mountain ranges may not last without conservation efforts to maintain connectivity,” it says.

Black bears were prevalent across most of Nevada during the 1800s but had been devastated in the Great Basin by the early 1900s, primarily due to unregulated hunting, conflicts with livestock ranchers, logging and overgrazing.

Over time, bears have benefited from a reduction in logging, combined with improved land management practices and an emphasis on conservation, the study said.

“While barriers such as highways often reduce gene flow in other large-bodied mammals, black bears in the western Great Basin appear to occasionally traverse these obstacles,” the report said.

Beckmann said the bears have moved into central Nevada around Tonopah and Austin.

“We’re starting to see them clear over in places like Ely” near U.S. Highway 50 about 40 miles from the Utah line, he added.

Future steps to help the bears could include construction of wildlife-crossing structures at highways.

“They’re expensive, but within a decade or two they pay for themselves in terms of both wildlife connectivity and public safety,” Beckmann said.

A series of tunnels and bridges have been built in eastern Nevada on U.S. Highway 93 north of Wells, and there’s a large passage over Interstate 80 west of Wendover, Utah.

Wyoming has them and one is planned in southeast Idaho. Grizzly bears use them at Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies.

“It may take several years but once they are comfortable with them, they’re used regularly,” said Beckmann, who has authored a book on the topic.

Rich Pedroncelli  

A black bear searches for Kokanee salmon Oct. 24 as it walks along Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

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Police: 15-year-old killed in West Wendover shooting

ELKO – A 15-year-old male was shot to death Sunday evening in West Wendover, and his 21-year-old brother was taken to Elko County Jail.

Lt. Don Lininger of the West Wendover Police Department said officers were called shortly after 7 p.m. to a home on the 800 block of Ash Street on a report of a juvenile with a gunshot wound.

They found the juvenile with a wound to his torso. Officers and medical personnel rendered aid, however, the juvenile succumbed to his injuries on scene. Lininger said the victim’s body will be examined Tuesday at the medical examiner’s office in Washoe County.

The two juveniles were in a back bedroom of the home and other family members were in the residence at the time of the shooting, said Lininger.

He said officers were initially told that Ivan Lopez had accidentally shot his brother. As emergency crews responded Ivan left the scene. Family members and officers then had contact with Ivan over the phone, and he returned to the scene a short while later and turned himself in to authorities.

Ivan Lopez was booked in the Elko County Jail shortly after 10 p.m. on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He is still being held while the West Wendover Police Department along with the Elko County Sheriff’s Department continue to investigate the scene of the crime, gather the shooter’s statements, and any other information from the family about incidents earlier that day leading up to the shooting.

Police will also determine the registered owner of the firearm.

Both departments are working closely with the Elko District Attorney’s Office on this case to determine if further charges will be warranted, Lininger added.

Family members who were present in the residence are cooperating with officers, he said.