A Discovery in a Central Valley Canal

January 7, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Merced County authorities have found what could become an important piece of evidence in a year old murder case.This black container could hold the key to justice for a North Valley family.

The Merced County Sheriff's Department dive team recently found this dirty digital video recorder at the bottom of the Delta Mendota Canal. They believe it contains images of the murder of a Santa Nella store clerk who was killed in January of 2007.

Det. Corey Gibson, Merced Co. Sheriff's Dept: "We weren't expecting to find it after a year. The visibility in the water was only about 2 feet, and for that location, that's actually pretty good. Generally when we dive that location, there's no visibility."

Detectives say the dive team, seen here during a training exercise, knew where to search for the store's surveillance system because of interviews with the murder suspects. David Fagundes and Edward Arviso were arrested for killing Fahd Hussein shortly after detectives found the former soldier beaten and stabbed to death in his family's shop.

Kahled Hussein, victim's brother: "Everybody was very devastated. The whole family was devastated. We never picture this thing happen to us."

Authorities learned about the disposal of the recorder several months ago, but strong currents kept them from searching the canal. So when the water flow was stopped for maintenance last month, the dive team finally had its chance. A diver in a surface supply suit like this one entered the water with a camera mounted to his helmet.

Det. Corey Gibson: "The diver was having a hard time looking in the area and one of the support personnel actually saw the DVR on the video from the water."

Now the recorder will be sent to a private firm in Texas where detectives hope the images can be recovered and used to bring closure to the Hussein family.


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