A key witness in a Benton County triple murder trial testified Friday that suspect Francisco Resendez Miranda revealed gruesome details of the slayings during a road trip just hours after the victims were killed.
Cristian Hurtado and Resendez Miranda were close friends in August 2014 when the three Pasco victims were shot to death in a rural Benton County cornfield.
The men worked at Wyckoff Farms, regularly partied together, and Hurtado sometimes crashed at Resendez Miranda’s Umatilla apartment.
Hurtado, once a person of interest in the case, told jurors Friday about the hours leading up to the grisly shootings.
And he told jurors his co-worker admitted to shooting David Perez-Saucedo, 22, and using a belt to strangle Victoria Torres, 19.
“(Resendez Miranda) started saying he could still smell the blood on his fingers,” Hurtado said.
(Resendez Miranda) started saying he could still smell the blood on his fingers.
Cristian Hurtado, witness
Resendez Miranda is charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder, including the shooting death of Abigail Torres-Renteria, 23, who was almost nine months pregnant at the time.
He is the only person charged with the murders though investigators have said his father and brothers are still wanted for questioning in the case.
Hurtado, the only witness to take the stand Friday, told jurors that his friend as furious with Perez-Saucedo and the women because he believed they broke into his apartment earlier that day.
Hurtado was drinking beer at a friend’s house in Umatilla the night before the early-morning murders when he received calls and text messages from Perez-Saucedo, who also worked at the farm and was Hurtado’s friend, according to testimony.
Earlier in the day, Perez-Saucedo had stopped by Miranda Resendez’s apartment, apparently to buy methamphetamine, Hurtado testified.
Murder victim David Perez-Saucedo had stopped by suspect Francisco Miranda Resendez’s apartment, apparently to buy methamphetamine, says witness.
Perez-Saucedo asked if Resendez Miranda or his family were going to be home that night. Resendez Miranda, his brothers and father were scheduled to work the graveyard shift at the farm.
Hurtado said he invited Resendez Miranda over to drink beer before the murder suspect was supposed to go to work. Resendez Miranda got a call from one of his brothers saying their apartment had been broken into.
Resendez Miranda headed to his apartment and Hurtado and a friend followed a short time later.
Resendez Miranda’s family and some friends had gathered there and they believed an SUV like the one Perez-Saucedo drove was involved in the break-in, Hurtado testified. They spotted an SUV driving nearby and the men hopped into several different cars to give chase.
Prosecutors showed the jury a video of the group cornering the SUV at a nearby Pik-A-Pop gas station. Perez-Saucedo got out of the driver’s seat and another man in the front passenger seat went inside the store.
Hurtado testified Resendez Miranda and his brother argued with Perez-Saucedo and accused him of the break-in. He said the brothers yelled, “Why the f--- did you do it?”
At the same time, the women were being questioned in the backseat of the SUV, Hurtado testified.
“We asked them what was going on ...,” Hurtado said. “They said they were there to buy beer because they were going to go party.”
Perez-Saucedo and the two women were driven back to the apartment in separate vehicles. Hurtado said he and two others decided to leave to go to drink.
A short time later, the victims apparently were driven north into Benton County and killed in a field off the interstate.
Forensic scientists testified this week that a tank top with Torres’ blood was found in the apartment. And shoe prints found at the field matched Resendez Miranda’s size 10 Air Jordans.
Hours later Hurtado met up with Resendez Miranda and they drove to Pasco for breakfast.
Hurtado noticed that Resendez Miranda had Perez-Saucedo’s cellphone, which had a large crack in the screen.
“(Resendez Miranda) said, ‘Yea, he’s not going to need it anymore,” Hurtado testified.
(Resendez Miranda) said, ‘Yea, he’s not going to need it anymore.
Cristian Hurtado, witness
Hurtado said Resendez Miranda then took the battery out of the phone and threw the pieces into the Columbia River.
On the way back to Oregon, Resendez Miranda pointed to the Coffin Road area, near where they bodies were found, and told Hurtado that’s where the murders happened, Hurtado testified.
Resendez Miranda allegedly then went into detail about the killings.
Defense attorney John Chambers questioned Hurtado on why he didn’t tell detectives until recently that Resendez Miranda allegedly discussed details of the deaths. Hurtado claimed he wasn’t re-interviewed by police or prosecutors for about a year.
Hurtado also told the court he didn’t initially report to police what he knew about the murders because he was scared and had a warrant out for his arrest.
Hurtado is currently serving a prison term at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton for forgery.
The trial is scheduled to continue next week in Benton County Superior Court in Kennewick.