Suspect in Washoe, Douglas killings will be prosecuted on murder charges ahead of Carson City charges | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Suspect in Washoe, Douglas killings will be prosecuted on murder charges ahead of Carson City charges

Geoff Dornan
gdornan@nevadaappeal.com
Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman, 19, of El Salvador, is escorted into the courtroom for his initial appearance in Carson City Justice Court, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, in Carson City, Nev. Martinez-Guzman was arraigned on 36 felonies including two dozen weapon charges. He's a suspect in a series of four homicides earlier this month in Reno and south of Carson City in rural Gardnerville. Prosecutors say additional charges are pending.
AP Photo/Scott Sonner

The 36 Carson City charges against Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman were put on hold Friday after prosecutors all agreed the murder charges in Washoe and Douglas counties should go forward first.

Deputy DA Melanie Brantingham told Justice of the Peace Tom Armstrong the families of the four victims asked the murder charges be prosecuted ahead of the stolen property and burglary charges filed in the capital.

She said all prosecutors involved agreed that’s “in the best interests of judicial economy and the wishes of the family.”

Public Defender Karin Kreizenbeck said she and her client have also agreed to the plan.

Brantingham said after the 10 minute hearing prosecutors here will review the status of their charges in July when Armstrong set a pre-trial conference and decide “whether to go forward with our charges.”

Guzman will be transferred to Washoe County next week where Washoe DA Chris Hicks and Douglas County DA Mark Jackson have agreed to a single trial on two counts of murder committed in Douglas County and two committed in Washoe County.

Jackson said at a press conference Jan. 28 that would “ensure the rights of the victims are protected.”

“This is the best course of action in seeking justice,” said Hicks.

According to an affidavit filed in Washoe Justice Court, Guzman admitted killing two women in the Gardnerville Ranchos and shooting an elderly Reno couple.

The criminal complaint charges him with four counts of open murder and five counts of burglary.

He’s accused of shooting Connie Koontz at her Douglas County home Jan. 9 or 10 and shooting Sophia Renken four times during a burglary at her residence in the Ranchos Jan. 12.

He’s also charged with shooting Gerald and Sharon David at their south Reno home on Jan. 15 or 16.

According to the affidavit he admitted taking a .22-caliber revolver form the David home on Jan. 3 and using it to kill both Koontz and Renken.

“He additionally admitted that he used this same revolver in the murder of the “elderly couple’ from Reno,” the affidavit states.

Judge Armstrong asked Brantingham to inform him when Guzman is transferred to Washoe County by Feb. 15.

“If he’s not transferred by then, I want to know what happened,” he said.

Washoe and Douglas prosecutors haven’t yet decided whether to seek the death penalty in the case.