ELKO — After two previous hearings, alleged murderer Eduardo Estrada-Puentes was appointed the counsel of the public defender’s office.
During Tuesday’s attorney-status hearing, Estrada-Puentes, 34, asked Judge Mason Simons for another three-week continuance to seek private counsel.
“At this point, Mr. Estrada, my concern is that we seem to be having an ever continuing process of continuances,” said Simons in denying the request.
Simons said he was inclined to appoint the public defender’s office in order for the case to move along.
After stating he did not have any funds or property, Simons declared Estrada-Puentes as fit for appointed counsel and signed off on the order.
If Estrada-Puentes is able to acquire the funds to hire private counsel during this process, that person may be substituted for the public defender’s office.
Due to the large amount of witnesses, Deputy District Attorney Chad Thompson requested two full, consecutive days to conduct the preliminary hearing.
Simons set the time and date for 8:30 a.m. on March 3 and 4. He said he intends to conduct the hearing at the jail courtroom.
According to Free Press files, the amended criminal complaint on a charge of open murder was filed Sept. 27, 2011, and can include first-degree murder and all lesser included offenses.
According to NRS, sentencing for first-degree murder can include life without parole; life with a 20-year minimum for parole; or 50 years with a minimum of 20 years for parole.
Estrada-Puentes is accused of strangling his estranged wife, Stephanie Gonzalez, on June 25, 2011. Soon after, Estrada-Puentes fled to Mexico.
With the help of the FBI and Mexican federal authorities, he was located and arrested in the State of Jalisco. Estrada-Puentes spent the past year in custody in Mexico City, where he underwent extradition hearings.