Woman accused in Kerman farmer murder expresses sympathy

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Even before she entered a plea, a woman accused of taking part in the murder of Kerman farmer George Salwasser, wanted to express her sympathy.

Investigators say Salwasser died earlier this month while confronting car thieves. Jose Canas, Fabian Mansanalez, his sister Maria, and Adrian Aceves, were all arrested for the murder.

All four defendants pleaded not guilty Thursday to gunning down George Salwasser Junior on his Kerman property exactly two weeks ago. The judge did not allow us to take video of their faces.

Salwasser's widow, and mother were in court to see the defendants enter their pleas.

"It's been very difficult for Mrs. Salwasser, Mrs. Salwasser's mother, and family members," said the victim's cousin, Paul Caprioglio. "It's been very very difficult. This is not a typical situation for them. They aren't involved in the court process and to be here and see what's going on and the delay is just for the arraignment, frustrating for them."

During the pleas, the attorney representing Maria Mansanalez told the court she wanted to express her sympathy to the Salwasser family. Outside court, her counsel, Linden Lindahl explained why.

"She wanted to let the Salwasser's know that she is deeply hurt by their loss," said Lindahl. "She learned after being taken into custody on this case that Mr. Salwasser had four children and she's really heartbroken about it."

Action News has learned Salwasser was also armed when he confronted the group. Investigators say he drove up to find the suspects stripping the wheels off a stolen truck. Salwasser was calling 9-1-1 when deputies say he was shot. His gun has not been located, but detectives spent hours looking for it in recycle bins and at a disposal facility. According to court records, Jose Canas is the one who investigators believe shot Salwasser.

"I have no idea, if at all, if he's been involved," said Canas' Attorney Ralph Torres. "So we're going to take some time to look at it, and then we will proceed from there."

Some evidence has been provided to defense attorneys. At least one defendant is claiming she was not aware of or involved in, the actual murder.

Lindahl said, "What I do know is, I have a client with no criminal record, who from what I can tell at this point, it's still early in my investigation but was not aware of what was going to occur and wasn't armed."

The three other suspects all have a criminal past. Investigators say they are also gang members. Some of the charges include car theft and possession of drugs.

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