Sunday, 19 July 1998

Sanchez murder case


July 7, 1997: Raul ``Inglewood'' Lopez, 26, allegedly robbed the house of Damien Jasso. Police say Lopez stole drugs and personal items from Jasso.

July 9, 1997: Jasso, 19, says he hired Jesus Leonardo Sanchez, 18, and Cecil M. Rodriguez, 30, to ``rough up'' Raul Lopez for the robbery. Police say Sanchez and Rodriguez allegedly killed the wrong man, Ronald Lee Lopez, 21, no relation to Raul.

Four hours later, Raul Lopez was fatally shot in his southside apartment. Police said Sanchez, Rodriguez and Jasso haven't been ruled out as suspects, but the focus of the probe into Raul Lopez's death has shifted away from them.

July 12, 1997: The body of Richard Norzagaray was found in a burning car near West 38th Street and Interstate 10. He was shot three times before the car was torched.

Police alleged that Sanchez and Rodriguez were unhappy with the amount of money they were paid by Jasso and began looking for Jasso and Jasso's friend, Eugenio Norzagaray. When Sanchez and Rodriguez couldn't find the two men, they allegedly went to Richard Norzagaray, Eugenio Norzagaray's uncle, to see if he knew where they were. Police said Richard Norzagaray was last seen with Sanchez and Rodriguez.

July 14, 1997: Tucson police arrested Sanchez (who gave his name as Carlos Santa Cruz), of the 700 block of West Tennessee Street, after catching him in the middle of a robbery.

July 24, 1997: Sanchez was indicted on four first-degree murder counts in the slayings of Ronald Lee Lopez on July 9, 1997; Shawn Trujillo, 19, on May 17, 1997; and Ramon Hernandez, 43, and Cesar Hernandez, 45, in September 1996. Sanchez was held in Pima County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond.

Sanchez was later indicted in Richard Norzagaray's slaying.

Feb. 19, 1998: Police sent a letter addressed to Jasso, who was on the run from a first-degree murder warrant, to his mother's home. The letter urged Jasso to turn himself in and to agree to testify against Sanchez. In return, it promised - among other inducements - that Jasso wouldn't face a murder charge, much less a day in jail. The letter was signed by Tucson police Detective Kevin Hall, who wrote that the deal was authorized by the Pima County Attorney's Office.

May 15, 1998: A Superior Court judge ordered Sanchez to serve 15 years in prison for the break-in that led to his arrest. A jury convicted Sanchez of armed robbery, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and theft.

May 23, 1998: Tucson police, acting on a tip, spotted Jasso cruising in a car on South Sixth Avenue and arrested him on the first-degree murder warrant charging him with the death of Ronald Lee Lopez. Jasso was jailed in lieu of $1 million bond. Police are still searching for suspect Rodriguez in connection with the Ronald Lee Lopez slaying.

June 17, 1998: Jasso pleaded guilty to solicitation of aggravated assault. Prosecutors agreed that he will be put on probation. In exchange for the plea, Jasso promised to testify against Sanchez and Rodriguez.

July 8, 1998: Defense attorney Joseph St. Louis filed a motion, saying that the deals offered to Jasso and two other key state witnesses violated the federal bribery statute. He cited a ruling this month by a federal appeals court in Denver that it's illegal for prosecutors to offer leniency to criminal suspects in return for their testimony. The motion is still pending.

Aug. 11, 1998: Sanchez's trial in the Ronald Lopez and Richard Norzagaray slayings is scheduled to begin.