Criminal history could make a murderer out of a Fresno County car thief

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A Fresno man is on trial for a murder he didn't see and didn't plan. (KFSN)

A Fresno man is on trial for a murder he didn't see and didn't plan.

"I don't have to prove that the defendant intended for a murder to happen," said prosecutor Bill Lacy. "I don't have to prove that the defendant wanted a murder to happen."

But a piece of his criminal history could convince a jury of his guilt. George Salwasser, Jr., was gunned down last May, but it's not the gunman on trial now.
Fabian Mansanalez stole a truck. He enlisted help to strip its parts for a payday of around $200. And he was on standby with his sister in the getaway car waiting for the deal to be done.

"But he's being tried here for murder, for murder, for a murder that everyone acknowledges he didn't actually commit," said his defense attorney, Mark Siegel.

Mansanalez is charged with the murder of Salwasser, who owned the Biola property where the truck transaction was taking place. Salwasser interrupted the rim removal and as he called 911, prosecutors say Jose Canas shot and killed him. But they say Mansanalez is also a murderer because he started the entire chain of events, knowing the potential dangers full well. Just three months earlier, police say they arrested him for dismantling a stolen car. At the time, he was armed with a knife.

"Now he told Officer Tariguchi of the Fresno Police Department that he had the knife because he didn't want to run into trouble," Lacy told jurors.

Prosecutors say if Mansanalez knew he needed to carry a deadly weapon, he knew a death could be one of the consequences. His attorney says he may carry a knife for other reasons, like self-defense in a tough neighborhood. He says all the crimes Mansanalez has committed are petty compared to what Canas did.

"Ask yourself if it's just and fair to put Fabian Mansanalez, in the same box, in the same category, in which you would put Jose Canas," Siegel said.

Canas is scheduled to face his own murder trial in the fall.But a jury will begin deliberating the fate of Mansanalez Wednesday morning. He faces 15 years to life if he's convicted of murder.

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crimetrackermurdershootingauto theftstolen carFresno County
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