Hearings reset for Edinburg murder suspects

Gabino Salinas, Hector Ruben Guerra, Sandy Lutz, Benjamin Chavez Sanchez

EDINBURG — A man and woman accused of playing roles in the murder of an Edinburg man in November 2017 were back in state district court Wednesday.

Hector Ruben Guerra, 45, and Sandy Lutz, 29, were present for their respective status hearings Wednesday morning in the 93rd state District Court on charges of capital murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated kidnapping in connection with the shooting death of Jose Angel Martinez.

The defendants’ cases were respectively rescheduled to Feb. 17, 2020, as the co-defendants in the case had pending hearings, court staff confirmed.

Also charged in the case are 34-year-old Gabino Salinas and 22-year-old Benjamin Chavez Sanchez, who entered not guilty pleas in early August, records show.

The suspects were re-indicted on Aug 1.

Sanchez and Salinas are also charged with possession of marijuana, more than 4 ounces but less than 5 pounds.

The four suspects are accused of threatening Martinez’s roommate, Ricardo Moreno, with a firearm and “committing or attempting to” kidnap the man, according to the indictment.

Moreno survived the kidnapping while Martinez did not.

Moreno, who was found by authorities Nov. 10, 2017, about three days after Martinez was killed, identified Salinas, Sanchez and Lutz, as the people who kidnapped him and Martinez.

Moreno told authorities Martinez was “brutally murdered and buried in a makeshift grave,” a criminal complaint stated.

Authorities allege the suspects killed Martinez, a street-level drug dealer, in retaliation for an assault on Salinas earlier in the year.

Martinez’s body was found in an orchard where investigators have said they found “more evidence of a violent crime.”

The search for the men began after one of Martinez’s neighbors saw large amounts of blood streaked across his driveway.