Jan. 29—CHEYENNE — Charges for two teenagers accused of involvement in the July shooting death of a local 14-year-old were bound over to Laramie County District Court at a preliminary hearing Friday.
Raymond M. Sanchez, 16, of Cheyenne is being charged as an adult with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Xavier Sanchez, 18, of Casper is charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
After about three hours of testimony and argument by the state and the Sanchezes’ attorneys, Laramie County Circuit Judge Sean Chambers found there was probable cause to send all of these charges to the county’s district court, which handles felony criminal cases.
Chambers reduced Xavier Sanchez’s bond from $250,000 to $100,000 cash. Raymond Sanchez’s bond remains at $100,000 cash. The judge denied requests from the defendants’ attorneys to modify the bonds to cash or surety.
State Public Defender Diane Lozano, Raymond’s appointed attorney in the case, said during the hearing that her client was in the custody of the Wyoming Department of Family Services. Xavier Sanchez is being held at the Laramie County jail.
The Sanchezes will next appear for arraignments in district court on a yet-to-be-determined date.
Cheyenne Police Detective Mike Fernandez was the state’s sole witness at Friday’s hearing. As the lead detective on the case, Fernandez was questioned by Assistant District Attorney Steven McManamen, Lozano and Casper attorney Don Fuller, who represents Xavier Sanchez, about what allegedly happened during the incident. Fernandez’s testimony closely followed what he wrote in an 11-page probable cause affidavit attached to charging documents.
Following Fernandez’s testimony, McManamen, Lozano and Fuller were given a chance to make arguments before Judge Chambers. Although the state and two defense attorneys argued about whether the state had presented enough evidence to back up a first-degree murder charge — which involves premeditation — and the conspiracy to commit first-degree murder charge, the judge said these were ultimately questions for a jury.
Raymond was arrested July 10 on unrelated charges, the Cheyenne Police Department said earlier this month. Xavier was arrested on July 15 in Casper on charges related to the shooting. Affidavits of probable cause were then forwarded to the Laramie County District Attorney’s office with charging recommendations.
Information collected by CPD points to the 14-year-old’s death having been the result of a gang-related conflict, or at least a conflict between two families.
According to court documents:
At 1:03 a.m. July 5, Cheyenne Police officers were dispatched to an apartment in the 1600 block of Taft Avenue in response to a report of shots fired. Upon arrival, officers observed a bullet hole in the door and a .45-caliber brass shell casing near the door.
Officers found a 14-year-old boy, identified as D.B. in the probable cause affidavit, lying on the floor with a large pool of blood to the right of his head. It was later determined D.B. had a suspected gunshot wound to his upper back.
The 14-year-old was pronounced dead by American Medical Response personnel at about 1:20 a.m.
Other residents of the apartment complex told police D.B. was associated with the “Blood” street gang. During a forensic interview, a teenager told the interviewer that D.B. and Raymond Sanchez had recently “had beef” with each other, possibly related to a couple of D.B.’s friends attacking one of Raymond’s friends.
Raymond, cousin Xavier Sanchez and a teenager identified as D.M. were hanging out in Cheyenne over the Fourth of July holiday. Xavier and D.M. typically lived in Casper.
In an interview with police, Raymond said that, based on being related to some of its members, he was associated with the Sureno Lincoln Park gang of Cheyenne. He said he knew D.B. and that some of the people D.B. associated with were “Blood” gang members.
Raymond told police that on July 4, he’d learned D.B. and people he associated with had a conflict with Raymond’s uncle. During the same timeframe, Raymond said, his uncle told him he would give Raymond $100 to fight D.B. on his behalf. Raymond said he collected the money around 6 p.m. July 4. During the exchange, the uncle apparently told Raymond: “I’ll see you later homie, handle him.”
A police detective spoke with an individual who had a conversation with Raymond Sanchez on July 4, in which Raymond said he was going to “take care of business” at the apartment complex where D.B. lived in the early hours of July 5. A forensic download of the person’s cellphone records confirmed this.
Raymond said he, Xavier and D.M. arrived at the apartments shortly after midnight on July 5 to fight D.B., based on the arrangement with his uncle.
D.M. told police that, shortly after 1 a.m., Raymond said they would just go to D.B.’s apartment and “get him,” or beat D.B. up. D.M. said he didn’t think the intention at the time was to shoot D.B.
When D.M. knocked on the apartment door, a male answered. He said D.B. was not there, but that he could give him a message. Raymond and Xavier were standing in a nearby area.
After D.B. answered the door, Raymond “popped out and shot through the door,” D.M. told police. He said Raymond was at the top of the stairs, said “This is it,” and shot the gun.
A teenager inside the apartment at the time of the shooting said it was D.B. who answered the door, but because he did not know the person at the door, he said D.B. was not there. Several other people were inside the apartment when the shooting happened, some of whom identified Raymond Sanchez as the shooter.
D.B. had tried to close and lock the door before the shots were fired, witnesses said. One person inside the apartment said they saw a bullet strike D.B., after which he went into a bedroom and collapsed.
D.M. said both Raymond and Xavier had guns before D.M. knocked on the apartment door, and that Xavier’s gun had been given to him by Raymond.
After Raymond fired the shot, D.M. said he and Raymond fled the apartment building. Both D.M. and Raymond said they saw Xavier fire at least one shot in the direction of the apartment building as they were fleeing.
Raymond, Xavier and D.M. then got into a white truck, which already contained two of Raymond’s relatives.
When asked by police how certain he was that Raymond was the person who shot D.B., D.M. said: “I swear to God, on everything, I was standing right there, I felt the bullet.” D.M. said he’d felt the bullet go past him and that it went through the door.
Raymond told police that Xavier had shot and killed D.B. Raymond said he’d let go of previous conflicts with D.B. until he’d heard about the apparent attack on his uncle.
A female relative of Raymond and Xavier told police D.M. told her they’d been at the apartment complex and were being shot at, so they shot back. The female relative said Raymond told her he shot through the door after D.B. answered it, and then he, Xavier and D.M. ran away. She said Xavier told her he saw a witness as they were running away and shot through a window.
At about 10 a.m. July 5, Xavier Sanchez’s grandmother received a text message from him, asking to be picked up. She drove to Cheyenne, picked up Xavier and D.M., and drove them back to Casper.
According to text messages, Xavier Sanchez texted his grandmother on the evening of July 6, saying: “If the cops come to the house call me before you say anything plz.” His grandmother asked Xavier to call her and said she would not lie for him, but she did not get further details about what happened.
On the morning of July 7, Xavier sent a screenshot of a CPD post about the incident to his grandmother.
D.M. said they realized they “messed up, bad” after seeing the CPD post, but he did not contact police after seeing it.
After agreeing to meet with police on July 12 in Casper, Xavier Sanchez did not show up.
Forensic pathologist Dr. James Wilkerson performed an autopsy on D.B.’s body in Fort Collins, Colorado. Wilkerson said a bullet entered through D.B.’s back left shoulder. He said there was “no evidence of close-range firing,” that the trajectory was “downward, left to right, slightly back to the front” and pierced several organs. He also recovered a large-caliber bullet from the body.
Wilkerson determined D.B. “died of a gunshot wound to the back of the chest that continued into the abdomen” and that the manner of death was homicide.
Fernandez wrote in a probable cause affidavit that the bullet hole in the door was consistent with a shooter being outside the door at a higher position on the staircase, near the entrance of the apartment building, and also consistent with the door being slightly open as the bullet entered the door and D.B.’s body.
A Wyoming State Crime Lab forensic analyst found that the bullet recovered from D.B.’s body and one recovered by detectives near the exterior of the apartment’s window were not the same, seemingly corroborating that Raymond and Xavier Sanchez had two different firearms.
Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at [email protected] or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.
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