Merced Police announce 2 arrests in 2 cases

FRESNO, Calif.

Authorities in the North Valley announced two arrests in the murder of a Merced handyman.

Investigators say 51-year-old Richard Mora was remodeling a home on "K" Street on August first. A friend went to the house to check on him and found Mora dead. The home had also been burglarized.

Authorities say a tip from the public helped lead to the arrests of Jerry Choate and Christopher Anderson. Detectives also say that during the burglary, several items were stolen from the home, including power and hand tools that have not yet been recovered.

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Sheriff's deputies also arrested a man in Modesto, wanted for a hit and crash that injured a Merced Police Officer. Deputies arrested Luis Antonio Benitez Wednesday morning at a hotel.

Merced Police Lieutenant Tom Trinidad and his wife were on a motorcycle, stopped at a traffic light Thursday night. Investigators say Benitez slammed into the couple from behind while in his SUV and then sped off.

The officer and his wife suffered injuries -- but have since been released from the hospital.

Benitez will be extradited to Merced County.

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