Ranchos murder suspect will face Washoe, Douglas charges first
February 8, 2019
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.
Carson City Deputy District Attorney 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 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 District Attorney Chris Hicks and Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson have agreed to a single trial on two counts of murder committed in Douglas County and two committed in Washoe County.
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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 have 30 days after Guzman is arraigned to decide whether to seek the death penalty.