KEARNS – Police have arrested one more person in connection with the kidnapping and killing of a Kearns woman last month, bringing the total number of suspects up to six. However, investigators are tight-lipped about whether or not a big breakthrough has happened in the case.
Cristian Morales-Gonzales was reportedly known as “The Mechanic,” according to the probable cause statement, and investigators believe he’s the one that was called to help dispose of Nicole Solorio-Romero’s body. The statement says Orlando Tobar and the other suspects were seen inside the Tacos Mi Caramelo restaurant immediately after the shooting and Gonzales was called after it happened.
Surveillance video reportedly shows Tobar had left the restaurant with Gonzales, then they returned to the crime scene.
According to witness testimony in the statement, “Chaparro (Tobar) and Cristian left in a white truck with a trailer to go get rid of Nicole’s body.”
The Deseret News is reporting the arrest happened on the same day when several different police agencies, including Unified Police, searched the area along SR 73 in Tooele County south of the Tooele Army Depot. However, investigators will not say if Romero’s body or any other significant thing was found.
Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill issued a statement, saying, “We are engaged in an active prosecution, having filed charges already. Thus we want to make sure everyone is afforded the due process that is their Constitutional Right. However, this continues to be an active investigation as such we can not comment in that it might compromise or impact those efforts in any way. When, and if, circumstances change we will let you know.”
Having a high number of suspects tied into one crime has pros and cons for prosecutors. Attorney Greg Skrodas, who is not connected to this case, says there is a chance the investigation could get muddled with all of the suspects telling different stories of what happened.
Skordas “If you have five or six people, or suspect, they all might be pointing fingers at one another.”
However, with more suspects, Skordas says lawyers have a higher chance of flipping one of them into becoming a witness for the state.
“If you have two or three co-defendants in a case, chances are that one of them is going to want to sit down with the state and say, ‘Look, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life or the next ten years, or whatever, in prison,’” he says.
Gonzales was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for obstruction of justice, which is a low-level charge compared to what the other five suspects are facing. Skordas says it’s common for prosecutors to try to sway defendants facing lesser charges.
“They might be the people the government would use to testify against the real killers.”
The Deseret News is also reporting Tacos Mi Caramelo is the same restaurant where two former employees allegedly tried to kidnap their former boss.
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