SALT LAKE CITY — An alleged drug debt and an ambush resulted in the shooting death of a man whose body was found inside an abandoned car in a bank parking lot in 2016, according to a newly unsealed search warrant.
The details outlining the death of Mauricio Martinez from a search warrant unsealed Wednesday in 3rd District Court come as a trial that was supposed to start Monday for four men accused in Martinez's death was continued.
On May 27, 2016, the body of Martinez, 31, was found inside a car parked at the Mountain America Credit Union parking lot, 6440 S. 3000 East in Cottonwood Heights about 7:15 a.m. He had been shot twice, including once in the neck, according to charging documents. Court documents characterized the killing as a robbery gone bad.
As the investigation progressed, Cottonwood Heights police determined the shooting happened in the Salt Lake City Police Department's jurisdiction.
Eventually, Jorge Arturo Castanon-Serrano, 35, Lucas Troy Neilson, 36, Alfredo Lolani, 25, and Marco Antonio Garcia, 25, were each charged with murder and aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies.
Police discovered the vehicle that Martinez's body was found in was rented from the Salt Lake CIty International Airport about six hours earlier, according to the warrant.
About 3:30 a.m. on May 27, 2016, Martinez and another man were preparing to use the car "to go pick up a load of narcotics from California," according to the man who was with Martinez when he was shot, the warrant states.
Before they could leave, they needed to make a heroin sale to get enough money for their drug purchase in California, the warrant states. The two men met with a person known as "The Mechanic" who got into the back seat of their car to make the purchase, the warrant states.
While sitting in a parking lot at 1032 S. Redwood Road, a man walked up to the passenger side window and shot and killed Martinez, according to the warrant. The other man sped away with "The Mechanic" still in the car. But at the first stop light, "The Mechanic" grabbed a bag of money that was still laying on Martinez's body, got out of the car and ran, the warrant states.1 comment on this story
"The Mechanic" was later identified as Castanon. After being picked up by detectives, he told them that, "he arranged for (the other man) and Martinez to meet him under the guise of a drug transaction as a favor to a man named Marco Garcia. Castanon stated Martinez and (the other man) owed Garcia a drug debt and Garcia wanted to steal their money to satisfy the debt. Castanon admitted to luring the men to the location," the warrant states. "Castanon said the plan was for the gunmen to lie in wait to take the car and money. He said the shooting was not planned."
The alleged gunman was identified as Neilson, the warrant states. The search warrant was written to collect possible DNA evidence.
A new pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for March 6.