Suspects in last year's Cherry Auction murder back in court

July 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two suspects are facing charges of murder for shooting a man to death while they pretended to be test driving a Chevy Tahoe.

Detectives Monday told the court Roberto Navarro and Daniel Valencia made their plan just 24 hours before it was carried out.

Sheriff's investigators say Danny Valencia and Roberto Navarro made plans to steal a car they were acting like they wanted to test drive at the Cherry Auction. But, during that time, the victim, Adan Flores Rodriguez was shot once in the head before the suspects told deputies they dragged him out of the SUV and left him in a field.

Roberto Navarro was the first to tell Fresno County sheriff's deputies, his friend; Danny Valencia needed money when they decided to steal a car last October. They chose a 2002 Chevy Tahoe being offered by a 61-year-old father of five.

Surveillance video shows around 10:20 a.m. that Saturday in October, the suspects and victim left the Cherry Auction for a test drive. Navarro drove, while the victim was in the passenger seat, and Valencia was in the backseat.

Detectives say during the ride, which was intended to end in a carjacking, Valencia pulled a gun from his waistband and demanded the pink slip.

"Adan turned towards the back seat where Danny was seated and explained no, and Danny pulled the trigger, shooting Adan in the head," Romeo Grajeda a homicide detective said.

Investigators say after the murder, the two dumped the body of Adan Flores Rodriguez in a vineyard near Cedar and American in Fresno County. The pair continued to Valencia's Selma home where much of the evidence was cleaned up or concealed.

"There was blood on the dashboard, so Danny used his own shirt, in other words Danny removed his own shirt cleaned some blood off the windshield and dash," Grajeda said.

Then detectives say Navarro told them Valencia found the spent bullet and casing and buried them.

Weeks later, U.S. marshals helped track down Navarro in Southern California and homicide detective, Romeo Grajeda grilled him for more than four hours. During that time, he revealed who was with him during the murder.

Valencia was caught and after some interrogation also confessed. He also told investigators he took the victims cell phone and Navarro took his wallet and other items.

Investigators say the suspects got rid of the vehicle once they saw news coverage of the murder. Late Monday both defendants were held to answer on several charges including murder. They could spend 50 years to life in prison and are both eligible for the death penalty.

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