DNA technology used in cold case breakthrough

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Courtesy Photo.

A man charged with killing Scott Martinez in his La Mesa home 12 years ago was dating the victim’s babysitter at the time, a prosecutor said Friday.

Martinez, 46, was stabbed 30 times with a sword on June 17, 2006, inside his apartment. The case was solved through DNA via genetic genealogy technology, said La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez at a Jan. 24 press conference.

Zachary Aaron Bunney, now 39, lived about two miles away from Martinez in La Mesa at the time. Martinez had hired a babysitter for his daughter.

Bail was set at $3.1 million for Bunney who was arrested Jan. 10 where he lived in Hillsboro, Oregon, and extradited here.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Erickson had asked for $5 million bail for Bunney, who pleaded not guilty before El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador.

The defendant’s blood was found in several locations in Martinez’s apartment as Bunney had apparently cut himself during the attack, said Erickson. Bunney may have entered or left the apartment via the bathroom window where a screen had been kicked out.

The victim had a collection of swords, and the murder weapon was left at the scene.

A relative of Bunney had placed their DNA into a public repository and investigators used the information to develop a case.

Genetic genealogy was also used in the long investigation of the Golden State Killer who is accused of killing 13 people from 1974 to 1986. An arrest of a man in his ’70s was made last April in Sacramento for those crimes.

Bunney has pleaded not guilty. An April 10 preliminary hearing was set. Bunney remains at the South Bay Detention Facility.

Police arrest two men in online sex scandal sting

Two men have finished their work furlough and home detention sentences for trying to arrange a meeting with a 13-year-old girl in an El Cajon hotel.

Both men were communicating online with someone they allegedly believed was 13 years old but who was actually an undercover police detective with El Cajon Police.

Amer Jamil Mansour, 61, and Salman Dawood Salman, 65, were arrested at the hotel on Dec. 22, 2017, after they showed up to meet the person they had been communicating with online, according to El Cajon Police.

Mansour was sentenced to 120 days in work furlough and Salman was sentenced to 90 days home detention. Both were placed on three years’ probation in El Cajon Superior Court, said Deputy District Attorney Aidee Brunner.

They both pleaded guilty to contact of a minor with the intent to commit a sex offense. Brunner said both men were ordered to register as sex offenders.

El Cajon Police issued a statement urging parents to be involved in their children’s online experiences.

“Their best internet safety is a parent,” said Lt. Rob Ransweiler.

Former employee charged with killing boss, sent to mental hospital

A man charged with killing an El Cajon man in 2011 has been committed to a state mental hospital after a judge found he was mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Jalal “Joe” Abou, 63, was the owner of Joe’s Auto Repair in Point Loma when he was shot and killed on April 19, 2011, around 7:30 a.m. He was found in the garage parking lot on Rosecrans Street.

A 3-day mental competency trial was held for Nicolas Brito Rosales, 54, and San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura Halgren found that Rosales could not understand court proceedings.

Rosales used to work for Abou and fled to Mexico after the shooting. Rosales was arrested in 2017 and extradited here.

His attorney, Brian Schmidt, argued that Rosales had delusions and it prevented him from listening to information that Schmidt wanted to tell him.

Criminal proceedings have been suspended for Rosales and he was taken to Patton State Hospital. After receiving medication, he may regain his mental competency and will return here for trial.

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