MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) --Two of three men who were involved in the brutal killing at a home in Atwater in September of last year have struck a deal with prosecutors.
Photographs showing the bleeding body of Carlos Herrera being embraced by his alleged killer Dominicio Salazar was displayed in the courtroom. Salazar is alleged to have stabbed Herrera at least 30 times, slashing his throat, and poking out his eye.
Two men also charged in the death, Alexis Jimenez and Francisco Alvarez, testified the stabbing followed a fight between Salazar and Hererra. One of them admitted using a cell phone to record the stabbing, and both agreed they helped burn Herrera's body in an orchard.
During the preliminary hearing, attorneys for Jimenez and Alvarez offered to make a deal, pleading guilty to being accessories after the fact. Prosecutor Travis Colby agreed, leaving only Salazar to stand trial for murder.
"Every case is evaluated differently, every defendant is evaluated differently, and of course people should be held accountable to the degree they participated in the specific crime and I think that's what you saw here today," said Colby.
While the Jimenez and Alvarez will now only receive probation, Salazar's attorney Katherine Hart says their testimony will actually help her client when it comes to his murder trial. They testified the victim was on meth, repeatedly insulted Salazar's daughters, started a fight and pulled a knife.
"I feel I was able to extract some important information from the witnesses about the behavior of the victim in this case. Behavior that unleashed and precipitated violence on my client's part, and my client admitted he is the one who stabbed," said Hart.
When he goes to trial, Salazar is looking at the possibility of life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. But Hart is hoping the circumstances will lead to lesser charges-- possibly manslaughter-- despite the brutal nature of the killing and the bizarre circumstances including testimony Salazar actually went to sleep with the corpse of the man he stabbed to death.