weather icon Mostly Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Judge dismisses murder charge

A murder indictment for a man accused of killing his estranged wife was dismissed Tuesday after a district judge ruled a grand jury considered a confession coerced by Las Vegas police.

Judge James Bixler said the confession Francisco Vazquez-Rosas gave to detectives after a 10-hour long interrogation was “coerced involuntarily” and violated the 26-year-old’s Fifth Amendment rights.

“As a result, the court finds that the objectivity of the grand jury process was both tainted and overpowered by the presentation of the defendant’s coerced confession,” Bixler’s ruling stated.

Authorities allege Vazquez-Rosas choked his wife, Teresa Guzman, to death on Dec. 13, 2008, after an argument over their extramarital affairs and her desire to leave Las Vegas with their three children. Police believe Guzman’s body ended up in a trash bin that was taken to the Apex landfill and probably will never be found.

Prosecutors had argued that even without the confession, there was sufficient evidence presented to the grand jury to sustain the murder indictment against Vazquez-Rosas, according to court records.

Vazquez-Rosas’ children, both under 7 years old at the time of the alleged incident, testified before the grand jury that they saw him kill their mother and dump her body in a trash bin, according to court records.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Lalli said the prosecution plans on appealing Bixler’s decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Bixler decided to stay his order of dismissal for one week to keep Vazquez-Rosas in custody while prosecutors prepare documents toward the appeal.

Vazquez-Rosas is in the United States illegally and would face deportation upon his release from jail.

If he is released and deported, prosecutors are concerned they will have missed their chance to try him on the murder charge.

After the hearing, Vazquez-Rosas’ attorney, public defender Dan Silverstein, called Bixler’s dismissal of the indictment, “really the only just thing to do.”

Silverstein said the interrogation methods used by detectives against his client, “belong in Saudi Arabia, not in the United States.”

And, without the coerced confession, Silverstein said prosecutors don’t have any substantial evidence against Vazquez-Rosas.

Silverstein has previously questioned the veracity of the children’s statements because of their youth and that one has changed her story at least once to say her mother was alive.

Family members have told police they have not heard from Guzman since she went missing in December 2008.

Vazquez-Rosas is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Trump becomes first president ever indicted on federal charges

The indictment carries unmistakably grave legal consequences, including the possibility of prison if Trump’s convicted. And it comes as the 2024 campaign grows.