Sammy Mercado murder suspect allegedly gives confession

January 15, 2013 12:00:43 AM PST
Sammy Mercado was shot to death last April, while investigators say he and his friends were trying to steal marijuana from a field in Fresno County.

Michael Voravong is facing charges of murder for the 16-year-old's death and his brother, Marshall is being charged with being an accessory to murder.

Right after Sammy disappeared, investigators began looking for a man named Ernie Chanmany. His family leased the land where the marijuana was growing. In October Chanmany was arrested in Utah, that's when Fresno County Sheriff's investigators got a full confession.

Michael and Marshall Voravong took notes as they listened to investigators talk about how they were led to the pair.

Detective Sergio Toscano described talking with Sammy's friends about what happened the morning they went to steal marijuana. Then they went to the field, and that's when Toscano found evidence of the murder.

"I walked over there to the place he said he believed he saw Sammy and when we got there, I saw what I believed to be a pool of blood," said Detective Toscano.

But investigators got a break in the case, with the arrest of what turned out to be an accomplice in the murder.

Once Ernie Chanmany was in custody in Utah on unrelated drug charges, he gave valuable information about Sammy's murder, including who pulled out an AK-47 the morning of April 12th.

"He said Michael came out from the hut area and started shooting at the Ford Explorer and towards the direction of the occupants, and Sammy, but he didn't know if Sammy was hit at that time."

Chanmany described what happened during the murder from a jail cell in Utah. He told Detective Toscano what he did to help cover up the crime and get rid of Sammy's body.

Chanmany revealed the group had agreed to farm the land and split the profits. He said they were protecting the marijuana the morning of the murder.

In detail, Chanmany told investigators information that was specific, including each individuals role in the crimes.

"On a second occasion, it was Ernie, Michael Voravong and Marshall run back out to the orchard and then they dug and buried Sammy."

Investigators told the court when Chanmany was extradited back to Fresno, he led them right to the location of the body.

Sammy's father was in court Monday. He heard many details for the first time. Even though it was difficult, Felipe Mercado said he wanted to know exactly what happened to his son.

A judge decided there is enough evidence to hold the Voravongs to answer to the charges.