Las Vegas man held without bail in Arizona slaying

KINGMAN, Ariz. — A 35-year-old Las Vegas man will be held without bail in an Oct. 5 homicide in northwest Arizona, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Derek Carlisle said proof is evident and the presumption is great that Jose Isabel Mendoza-Licea committed second-degree murder and that he is a danger to the public.

Carlisle’s ruling came after two sheriff’s detectives testified at a hearing Monday that the defendant and as many as nine other Las Vegas residents, including several children, were on the family vacation property in a remote area west of Dolan Springs, about 80 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

Two witnesses told the deputies they were enjoying themselves around an evening campfire when a gunshot rang out and Mendoza-Licea returned to the gathering, armed with a handgun, and told them he had killed a man who worked as a caretaker of the property.

Prosecutor Jacob Cote said that the caretaker was known as “Jose” or “Chacal,” but that authorities had not positively identified the victim, who they believe is from El Salvador.

Detectives said footprints matching Mendoza-Licea’s shoes were found in dirt that covered the spot where the victim was buried on the property.

Detective Larry Matthews testified that a witness told him the defendant had been drinking and that he was described as being enraged about something, but authorities have not disclosed any motive for the shooting.

Mendoza-Licea is being held in the Mohave County jail pending a Jan. 3 hearing.