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Crime-and-courts
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Man who killed, beheaded Ryndon woman sentenced to life without parole

ELKO – Jose de Jesus Segundo-Huizar was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday for the 2016 murder and decapitation of Carmen Magallanes-Sanchez.

Segundo-Huizar, 48, pleaded no contest Nov. 27 in Elko District Court to first degree murder, a category A felony, for killing Magallanes-Sanchez in her Ryndon home on Aug. 24, 2016.

The defendant, represented by Public Defender Kriston Hill, appeared in district court before Judge Al Kacin to receive his sentence on March 2. District Attorney Tyler Ingram represented the state.

The sentencing hearing was translated by court interpreter Eloise Mendoza for Segundo-Huizar, who does not speak English.

Asking for life without the possibility of parole, Ingram recounted the details of Magallanes-Sanchez’s death based off of Segundo-Huizar’s confession to Elko County Sheriff’s detectives.

The incident began with an argument between Magallanes-Sanchez and Segundo-Huizar. She first hit Segundo-Huizar and then she was struck by the defendant, hitting her head on a sink and falling to the floor. The defendant bludgeoned the victim with a hammer and transported the body 30 miles north on Mountain City Highway. He buried the body less than one mile off of the highway.

In Segundo-Huizar’s confession, he told police he “had thoughts of Carmen sitting up in the grave and screaming for help, so he went back to his van, retrieved a knife, cut Carmen’s throat, and then cut Carmen’s head off.” He drove to another spot and buried the head.

Ingram said the crime was “grotesque beyond the imagination,” explaining that the victim “did not deserve to be murdered” the way she was and not living to raise her four children, including a 2-year-old child, who was 9 months old at the time of the incident.

“All four of her children deserve to have her as a mother. She has a very young child who will likely never have a memory of her mother,” Ingram said.

Ingram also countered the findings from Reno forensic psychiatrist Dr. Melissa Piasecki, who stated in her report that the defendant did not exhibit anti-social behavior, had no criminal or violent history or mental disorders, showed sadness and remorse about the crime, and cooperated with law enforcement to locate the victim’s remains.

“In the end, I doubt Carmen or her children care one little bit about any of those things,” Ingram said. “What this man did is hideous and disgusting and nothing but life without prison is justice in this case.”

Hill asked the court to sentence Segundo-Huizar to life with the possibility of parole “to allow my client to have parole at some point in time. He will be a very old man when he is eligible for parole.”

Hill said that “the person I know, Jose de Jesus Segundo-Huizar, is not the person we’ve [heard] about today,” explaining that the crime “didn’t make sense,” and adding that there was a toxic relationship between the victim and the defendant.

She also cited Dr. Piasecki’s report which deemed him a “low risk for future violence.”

“I truly don’t believe that he is a threat to anyone or himself,” Hill said.

“I believe that the initial act in pushing her and hitting her head was purely accidental,” Hill continued. “In discussing this with him, he said he lost his mind … he was terrified and had no idea what to do. Crazy thoughts starting going through his head.”

“Without his cooperation, her entire body may not have been recovered,” Hill concluded.

When Segundo-Huizar was asked by Kacin through Mendoza if he wanted to make a statement on his behalf, the defendant silently shook his head and lowered it toward the table.

Hill also asked the court to take into consideration that if Segundo-Huizar were to receive probation “given the age that he will be at the time he’s released from prison, he will ultimately be deported to Mexico and not remain in our country.”

Segundo-Huizar, who has been in custody at the Elko County Jail since his arrest Oct. 3, 2016, admitted at his arraignment in November that he is not a United States citizen.

Antonio Arroyo, the boyfriend of Magallanes-Sanchez, delivered a victim impact statement to the court interpreted by Mendoza, asking for Segundo-Huizar to receive life in prison.

Arroyo said on Aug. 24, 2016, he discovered their child alone in their home in her crib “crying, dirty and a mess.” He reported Magallanes-Sanchez missing to police.

When asked by Ingram to describe Segundo-Huizar’s and Magallanes-Sanchez’s relationship, Arroyo said he was unclear about it himself, except that she told him the defendant “bothered her a lot” at work and he claimed to be the baby’s father to other people.

Arroyo further stated that he was unable to live in Elko because people accused him of killing Magallanes-Sanchez.

Before handing down his sentence, Kacin said he took into consideration Hill’s argument that the defendant cooperated with authorities after his arrest to locate the victim’s remains and confessed to the crime.

Kacin said he also took into consideration the report from the state Division of Parole and Probation which recommended life without the possibility of parole, adding that ultimately the details of the crime spoke louder than anything.

“The facts of the case are grisly, gruesome, hideous, and despicable. You can’t think of enough adjectives and I don’t know if any of them do justice to how awful this murder was,” Kacin said, further stating that the decapitation factor “added insult to injury” because the victim was already dead.

Kacin also called the murder the “ultimate act of domestic violence.”

“This is as bad as it gets for a domestic violence case that I’ve ever seen,” he said.

“Carmen’s family needs justice. The community needs justice,” Kacin said. “I wish Carmen’s family the best. I can’t imagine the pain felt by her children and those who loved her and cared about her.”

“It’s a terrible case and the sentence, as I said already, is justice.”


Crime-and-courts
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Robbers pepper-spray Elko casino patrons, flee and then burn vehicle

ELKO – Police are searching for two suspects who robbed a Dotty’s Casino on Mountain City Highway after spraying employees and patrons with what might have been bear spray.

Elko police Lt. Mike Palhegyi said the suspects entered the Dotty’s in the Smith’s shopping center at about 6:50 a.m. Friday.

The robbers “used a chemical agent, possibly bear mace, to disable the employees and patrons, and got away with an undisclosed amount of money,” Palhegyi told the Elko Daily Free Press.

Bear spray can have chemical concentrations that are much higher than pepper spray used for regular self-defense.

A few minutes after they fled the casino in a vehicle, police and firefighters were called to Dotta Drive on a report of a car fire. The robbers are believed to have set fire to the vehicle to conceal evidence, possibly fleeing from there in another vehicle.

Police are reviewing surveillance video from the shopping center for descriptions of the robbers, but Palhegyi said they were wearing clothing that concealed their identities.

The vehicle that was burned had local plates. Police do not know yet whether it was reported stolen.

The vehicle was destroyed by the fire.

Palhegyi was not sure if there were any injuries among the people who were sprayed.


Local
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UPDATE: Winter storm warning continues

ELKO – A winter storm slammed the Elko area Friday, prompting the closure of state offices and several schools.

The region remained under a winter storm warning until noon Saturday.

Gov. Brian Sandoval announced the closure of all state offices Friday in northern Nevada because of storm. Great Basin College did not hold classes, and the Elko County School District canceled classes in Spring Creek, Owyhee and Wells.

All public schools in Elko and Carlin were on a two-hour delay, as was Elko County’s public transportation system.

The forecast calls for snow continuing into Sunday, then fair skies with temperatures rebounding into the 40s next week.


Local
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Elko Sports Complex to be done in two phases

ELKO — Bid specification packets for a pared-down Elko Sports Complex that now will be built in two phases should be ready to go out in about a week, according to Elko’s assistant city manager.

Scott Wilkinson said the city will seek a base bid and a bid for additions that may be awarded depending on whether bids “are decent” to fit within Elko’s budget for the complex. Earlier bids for a fancier sports complex came in too high.

“We swung and missed on that one, so we had to scale back,” Wilkinson said.

Elko City Council on Tuesday agreed to seek bids for the skinnier plans and to divide the project into two phases for 2018 and 2019.

Elko budgeted a little less than $8.79 million for the sports complex, but the low bid from Granite Construction came in at a little more than $12 million. The council rejected that bid at its Feb. 13 meeting and asked staff to return with a less costly version.

The earlier proposal called for a paved parking area, a plaza with planters for flowers, irrigation for the plants and nicer fencing, as well as a comfort station.

Phase one of the new plan will be for site grading at the 80-acre site south of the Humboldt River, installation of electrical utilities, a sound wall, a pump station and irrigation mainlines, a water source for wetlands, and storm drainage infrastructure. The alternatives to be bid for the first phase are field construction and field lighting.

The second phase will include the comfort station, outfield fencing and scoreboards, sports equipment and parking lot construction. The lot would be gravel, not paved.

“Our intent is to complete the fields,” Wilkinson said Wednesday. “We think we can afford all of it.”

At the Feb. 27 council meeting, he said by rolling part of the project into the next year, there will be additional funding available, such as about $500,000 from the recreation fund and another half million dollars from sales taxes.

Danny Story, who is on the Elko Parks and Recreation Committee and involved with baseball in Elko, emailed comments that the lack of a new complex is holding Elko back from hosting large, regional baseball tournaments that would boost the economy.

“It’s important to get this project off the ground now. Make it happen,” he wrote.

Story expressed concern about needing artificial turf and was worried there wouldn’t be a comfort station since plans were being cut back. However, the phase two plans call for a comfort station, Wilkinson pointed out.

Wilkinson also told the council the city can always go back in and add features to the sports complex when more funding is available.

Elko City Manager Curtis Calder said earlier this month that if the city pursued a two-phase project, the initial bid could be awarded this spring, and a second bid package could be solicited this fall for 2019 work.

Cedar Street Project

Elko City Council this week awarded a contract to Great Basin Engineer Contractors for a little more than $1.66 million for the second phase of the Cedar Street reconstruction project.

Director of Public Works Dennis Strickland said the city “had a great experience with them in the first phase” of the project, which went from Sixth to Second streets. The second phase is from Second Street to D Street. The third phase will be Sixth to Ninth streets.

“I’m excited to knock out the next big chunk of Cedar Street,” he said.

The project is improving flood control and storm drainage, as well as rebuilding the street.