Charges filed in bizarre Fresno Co. murder

FRESNO, Calif.

Back in February, police discovered evidence of an assault at the home located on Butler near Minnewawa.

Days later, they found the victim's charred body at an orchard on Central and Del Ray near Sanger.

Marcos Gonzales Jr and Richard Escalon were arraigned on murder charges Friday, more than three months after investigators say they beat and stabbed Christopher Zuniga inside this Sunnyside area home.

According to this search warrant, investigators collected several pieces of evidence from the home, including seven knives, a baseball bat, drug paraphernalia and rug cleaner.

Gonzales Jr and Escalon are both career criminals and have sat inside the Fresno County Jail on parole holds.

Action News legal expert Tony Capozzi explains why the murder charges may have been filed months after the crime.

He says, "It appears as though this is a case that deals with circumstantial evidence. So they had to do blood testing, DNA testing, fingerprint testing, blood spattering. A number of tests had to be done. And that takes months and months to do."

Investigators believe Gonzales Jr and Escalon killed Zuniga at the home before burning his body and SUV at this orchard near Sanger.

The investigation became even more complicated by the fact that the owners of the home were not living there when the murder happened.

They were going through a divorce at the time. And while the wife was staying there, her attorney says she let some untrustworthy people stay in the home with her.

Once those people got into the house, they wouldn't leave.

The woman wound up leaving her own home out of fear.

Friday, a repair man was at the house.

The woman's estranged husband says the people who had been living there, including Gonzales Jr and Escalon trashed the place.

He tells Action News, he's happy the case is moving forward and hopes he and his family can do the same.

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