Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Murder suspect surrenders voluntarily

Illegal immigrant was wanted in slaying of Hailey man

Express Staff Writer

Carlos Villanueva-Martinez Jesus Valencia-Bolanos

A suspect wanted in connection with the murder of Hailey man last November surrendered voluntarily when confronted by police in Twin Falls early Sunday morning.

Carlos Villanueva-Martinez, a 37-year-old illegal immigrant from Gooding, was apprehended on Blue Lakes Boulevard in Twin Falls around 5:30 a.m. He had only arrived in Twin Falls that morning from Southern California, where he had fled following the execution-style slaying of 30-year-old Gustavo Flores-Quintana. The victim's body was found Nov. 9, 2007, near the Big Wood River about a mile north of Gooding.

"Personally, I think he came back here because he knew we were looking for him," said Gooding County Sheriff Shaun Gough, who apprehended the suspect with the assistance of the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office.

Gough said he was in "plain clothes" but the suspect seemed to recognize him anyway.

"He saw me and came right up to me and said, 'I came to talk to you,'" Gough said.

The suspect was arrested on a grand theft warrant and was scheduled to be arraigned on the charge Tuesday afternoon in Gooding. Charges had not been filed against Villanueva-Martinez in the death of Flores-Quintana, but Gough said either "murder or accessory" charges are likely pending further investigation.

Villanueva-Martinez is one of two suspects in the death of Flores-Quintana, who died from a single gunshot wound to the back of his head from a .22-caliber weapon.

Jesus Valencia-Bolanos, a 23-year-old illegal immigrant who also lived in Gooding, was arrested in December in Santa Ana in Southern California. He has been charged in Gooding County with grand theft and accessory to first-degree murder.

The suspects allegedly stole the victim's car, a 1996 Pontiac Grand Am, and fled to Southern California after the shooting. The vehicle was found abandoned in Santa Ana a few days after Flores-Quintana was killed.

Gooding County authorities believe that Flores-Quintana was murdered in a "drug deal gone bad."

Flores-Quintana had no previous drug convictions, but had been arrested several times in Gooding for driving under the influence. He is the younger brother of Jorge Flores-Quintana, a 32-year-old former Gooding man who is serving time in the Idaho state penitentiary for drug dealing and escape convictions. Jorge Flores-Quintana has also been charged in Blaine County with delivery of methamphetamine. He was one of 13 suspects indicted by a Blaine County Grand Jury following a major drug bust last April by the county's Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Gustavo Flores-Quintana was a native of Mexico who lived in the Wood River Valley for 13 years prior to his death. He worked at times in drywall construction and left behind a wife and three children who lived in Pocatello. The Wood River Chapel, based in Hailey, reported that his body was returned to Mexico for burial.

Authorities earlier leaned toward Villanueva-Martinez as the trigger-man, but now they're not so sure.

"We got the two guys and now we just have to work them against each other because we've got two different stories," Gough said, adding that the suspects have accused each other of killing Flores-Quintana.

"We've got some police work to do," he said. "We've got to sort this out and we've got to figure out who pulled the trigger, because right now we just don't know."

Both suspects remain incarcerated in the Gooding County Jail.

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