Facebook Murder Trial: Closing Arguments Set for This Week

Feb 16, 2013 5:56pm
ht manuel edmundo guzman jr jt 130216 wblog Facebook Murder Trial: Closing Arguments Set for This Week

(Image Credit: Riverside County Sheriff''s Department)

Closing arguments are set to begin this week in the trial of a California teenager who allegedly lured his victim, an up and coming boxer, using a bogus Facebook profile and then fatally shot him.

Prosecutors say Manuel Edmundo Guzman Jr., 19, was the man hiding behind a phony Facebook profile of a fictional woman he named Rebecca Santhiago.

Guzman, who was 17 at the time Eddie Leal was gunned down, used photos of an East Coast Internet model in the profile in attempts to lure young men, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

His motive, prosecutors say, was simply to kill for a thrill.

On May 30, 2011, Leal, 23, a professional bantamweight boxer, went to meet Rebecca Santhiago, the sultry single he had been Facebook messaging with, at a San Jacinto park, according to prosecutors.

But first, Santhiago had asked Leal to pick her up a Four Loko drink, according to the Press-Enterprise in Riverside. She advised Leal to pick up her brother, who would guide him to a liquor store, the newspaper reported.

Instead, prosecutors say Leal met Guzman, who shot him multiple times.

Authorities found Leal shot to death in the driver’s seat of  his Toyota Corolla, which they said hit a parked car during the ambush.

The Facebook profile was traced to a computer at Guzman’s mother’s house, where he lived, prosecutors said.

Guzman’s defense attorney, however, has argued that the case is circumstantial and said there is no evidence the teenager fired a gun.

If convicted, Guzman faces life in prison.

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