An affidavit filed in Washoe Justice Court on Monday says Wilber Ernesto Martinez Guzman admitted killing an elderly Reno couple as well as the two women shot to death in the Gardnerville Ranchos.
He was formally charged with four counts of open murder and five of burglary in a criminal complaint.
In a joint press conference, Washoe District Attorney Chris Hicks and Douglas County DA Mark Jackson said after a review of the law, they’ve agreed to combine the charges against Guzman into a single trial that will be held in Washoe County and, Jackson said, “ensure the rights of the victims are protected.”
“This is the best course of action in seeking justice,” said Hicks.
The four murders all occurred in a matter of a week earlier this month. Connie Koontz was shot in the head sometime during Jan. 9-10 at her home in the Gardnerville Ranchos. Sophia Renken was shot four times during a burglary Jan. 12 at her home in the Gardnerville Ranchos just a mile from the Koontz residence.
Gerald (Jerry) David, 81, and Sharon David, 80, were murdered in their south Reno residence on Jan. 15-16, both suffering a bullet wound in the head.
“The lady was coming out. I got scared and shot at her,” Martinez Guzman is quoted telling a Washoe County detective.
According to the affidavit filed by detective Stephanie Brady, Guzman was at the Davids residence in south Reno numerous times during the summer as an employee of a landscaping company and, on Jan. 3, burglarized a trailer on the David family property taking, among other things, a .22-caliber revolver and a cache of rifles.
“Martinez Guzman admitted that he used this stolen revolver from the Davids’ trailer in the murders of both Ms. Koontz and Ms. Renken,” according to the affidavit. “He additionally admitted that he used this same revolver in the murder of the ‘elderly couple’ from Reno.”
There was no sign of forced entry at any of the victims’ homes.
The evidence began to point toward Guzman after an Apple watch stolen from the Koontz residence attempted to connect to Apple services using an account belonging to Sonia Guzman, the defendant’s mother. That occurred after Koontz was killed.
During the investigation, detectives were told about a landscaper named Ernesto who worked at the David residence during the summer.
Detectives then learned Guzman had pawned a gold ring stolen from the David residence at Northern Nevada Coin in Carson City along with 16 silver rings stolen from the Koontz residence.
He was initially arrested for the burglaries and possession of stolen property and faces 36 counts in Carson Justice Court. A search of the BMW he was driving revealed the .22-caliber revolver. The BMW was owned by his mother. Sonia Guzman hasn’t been charged with a crime, according to Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong. She was questioned by immigration authorities following her son’s arrest and was given a hearing date, he said.
Martinez Guzman remains in the Carson City Jail but Hicks and Jackson said they have filed the paperwork to transfer him to the Washoe County Jail where he will be held without bail. The two DAs said they intend to personally prosecute him for the murders but haven’t yet decided whether to seek the death penalty. Prosecutors have 30 days from Martinez Guzman’s formal arraignment to decide whether to pursue the death penalty.
No court date has yet been set in Reno and while Martinez Guzman has a public defender on the 36 burglary and stolen property counts he faces in Carson City, no attorney has yet been appointed to handle the murder charges in Washoe County.
Martinez Guzman is also wanted by federal immigration authorities. They say he’s an illegal immigrant from El Salvador. Asked about that, Hicks said his immigration status has nothing to do with this case.
“What someone’s status is in this country has nothing to do with how we are proceeding in this case,” Hicks told reporters Monday. “We are looking to hold an alleged murderer accountable for the murders he committed. That’s all.”
President Donald Trump tweeted on Jan. 21 the four killings showed the need for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, which was at the center of the federal government shutdown.