‘New discovery' delays 2012 Strathmore murder case
Preliminary hearing, sentencing both impacted
A preliminary hearing for two Strathmore men accused of murdering a Bakersfield man whose body was found burning in an abandoned building last year has been delayed. As a result, the sentencing of two others charged with being an accessory to the murder was also postponed.
The Strathmore pair, 23-year-old Matthew Campos and 28-year-old Eric Jimenez, were to be scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Tulare County Superior Court Wednesday; however, a new discovery caused the date to be delayed to April 10.
Anthony Fultz, assistant district attorney with the Tulare County District’s Office, said a “new discovery” can mean any number of things.
“That can mean police reports, photographs, tape recordings; anything that would get prepared by police agencies. That may be what was involved — I don’t know the specifics of what was going on, but that’s what caused the case to be continued,” Fultz said.
Nicholas Schuller, supervising deputy district attorney who is prosecuting the case, said Campos and Jimenez were arraigned Wednesday on an “amendment complaint.”
The two are facing murder charges with a laundry list of special allegations, including gang murder, murder during the course of a robbery, lying in wait, robbery, and weapons allegations. Jimenez is additionally charged with stealing the victim’s vehicle.
Raquel Espinoza and Parrish Jones, who are not in custody, are charged with being accessories to the murder. Schuller said Espinoza and Jones have pled guilty to the charges and said their sentencing is trailing the homicide cases. That date has been set for April 12.
According to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, on March 29, 2012, detectives found Jorge Luis Nunez Ayon’s body burning in an isolated ranch shop southeast of Strathmore.
Over the course of a two-month investigation, detectives learned that on the evening of March 28, 2012, Ayon was at a residence in the Porterville area, visiting Espinoza. The sheriff’s department said that while there, Ayon was confronted by Jimenez, who accused him of dating Espinoza. Authorities said a fight ensued, at which time Jimenez and Campos allegedly repeatedly beat Ayon about the head and body and then strangled him to death.
All three suspects reportedly loaded Ayon’s body into his own car and took him to the abandoned building in the 2400 block of Avenue 184, where he was set on fire, the sheriff’s department reported. Ayon’s vehicle was hidden for several days until it was found burned in an olive grove north of Strathmore, according to the sherrif's department.
The sheriff’s department said that Jones was contacted by one of the suspects after the victim had been killed, and allegedly assisted by helping burn the body and by destroying other evidence.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.