A Kennewick teen suspected of stabbing a man to death Christmas Eve made his first court appearance Thursday afternoon.
Angel Gonzalez, 17, turned himself in Wednesday and is under investigation for possible second-degree murder charges related to the death of Gerardo Villamar Jr., 23, of Kennewick, officials said.
Superior Court Judge Vic VanderSchoor ordered Gonzalez held without bail.
Gonzalez was involved in a street fight at East Second Avenue and Beech Street with Villamar, Erick Nieto, 23, Rafael Nieto-Villamar, 24, and Jose Vazquez-Villanueva, 39, after Gonzalez stared at Nieto-Villamar in passing just before midnight Dec. 24, according to court documents.
Gonzalez stabbed Villamar, Nieto and Vazquez-Villanueva, documents said. Villamar died, while Nieto and Vazquez-Villanueva suffered injuries that weren’t life-threatening.
Gonzalez’s parents and brothers told investigators Wednesday that he returned to his home in the 300 block of East Second Avenue in Kennewick after the Christmas Eve fight and talked about stabbing people.
Gonzalez told investigators he was acting in self-defense, feared for his safety and ran from assailants who attacked him with baseball bats, documents said. The interview took place after Gonzalez was read his Miranda rights.
Villamar’s relatives told a different story.
The incident happened shortly after Villamar, Nieto-Villamar (Villamar’s cousin), and Nieto (Nieto-Villamar’s brother) left a family Christmas party, documents said.
Nieto-Villamar told police that he was in a car with Villamar and Nieto, and Nieto got out to talk to Gonzalez, who was “eyeballing” Nieto- Villamar several minutes earlier, documents said.
Nieto-Villamar then said Gonzalez punched Nieto and stabbed Nieto in the ribs with a knife that was at least six inches long, causing Nieto to fall to the ground, documents said.
Gonzalez stabbed Villamar at least twice in the back after Villamar and Nieto-Villamar got out of the car to help Nieto, Nieto-Villamar told police.
Vazquez-Villanueva told investigators that he was driving by and stopped because he knows Nieto, Villamar and Nieto-Villamar. He grabbed a baseball bat in an attempt to stop the fight and was stabbed in the arm by Gonzalez, documents said.
Vazquez-Villanueva was jailed on an immigration hold after the incident. He took police to a house in the 200 block of East Second Avenue where he said he saw the then-unidentified suspect jump a fence, documents said. Police, with the help of a dog, later found two knives with blood on them in the backyard. The knives had long, partially curved blades.
Police also found an apple carved in a way that is commonly used for smoking marijuana, documents said.
Nieto-Villamar drove the victims to Trios Health, documents said. He cried when he told police that Villamar was bleeding out of his mouth when they tried to take him out of the car to go into the hospital.
“Rafael said that Gerardo’s eyes rolled in the back of his head,” said the police transcript of the interview. “Rafael was telling him that everything was going to be OK. Rafael knew that he wasn’t going to make it. Rafael said that he lost it. He told me that he was witnessing Gerardo’s death in front of his eyes. Rafael said that Gerardo did this to protect his family but it wasn’t his fight.”
Police received a tip on the identity of the suspect Feb. 14 and that led to Wednesday’s search of Gonzalez’s house. The Tri-City Regional SWAT Team was asked to help serve the warrant. Three people were taken to the Kennewick Police Department for in-depth interviews. As a result, investigators determined that Gonzalez was still in the Tri-City area.
With the help of the Criminal Apprehension Team and the KPD Patrol Division, investigators were able to contact Gonzalez through a family member.
After a long discussion by phone, Gonzalez agreed to turn himself in at the police department.
“He was cooperative with police investigators and provided an account of the event of the Christmas Eve death investigation,” a news release said.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom