Tucson kidnap-murder trial ends in jury deadlock

2013-07-18T00:00:00Z 2013-07-18T07:19:20Z Tucson kidnap-murder trial ends in jury deadlockPatrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The trial of man accused of kidnapping and first-degree murder ended in a mistrial Wednesday.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Stephen Villarreal declared the mistrial after the jurors announced they were unable to reach a decision in the trial of Manuel Ignacio Mendivil-Martinez.

Mendivil-Martinez was accused of participating in the kidnapping and killing of Walter Puerta-Garcia in November 2010.

Puerta-Garcia was bound with duct tape, shot four times in the face and his body torched to hide evidence. His corpse was found days later southeast of Tucson International Airport.

The prosecution argued Mendivil-Martinez took part in the killing with two other men because they worked for a Mexico-based drug lord who was at war with a rival. Puerta-Garcia, the prosecution said, was the brother of the rival.

Mendivil-Martinez's attorney, Brick Storts, argued his client was set up to take the blame by the real killer.

Jose Maria Elias Gonzalez-Lopez, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the killing of Puerta-Garcia, planted a bandanna with Mendivil-Martinez's DNA on it near the scene, Storts argued.

Storts said a prior affiliation between his client and Gonzalez-Lopez provided the opportunity to plant the evidence.

A conference was set for next month to discuss a second trial.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com

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