Paso woman accused in assault-for-hire plot to be tried for murder

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comMarch 17, 2014 

Maria del Carmen Granados Fajardo appears in court Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013.

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A trio of teenagers was supposed to kidnap Victor Sanchez and shoot him in the kneecaps, a detective testified Monday. Instead, they wound up killing him.

During a three-day preliminary hearing that concluded Monday, a judge ruled that there was enough evidence to pursue a trial for Maria del Carmen Granados Fajardo, 50, of Paso Robles. Fajardo faces several felony charges, including murder, kidnapping, conspiracy and robbery.

She is accused of hiring several people to assault Sanchez, her ex-boyfriend, on two occasions.

“My client has boldly maintained her innocence from day one, and she continues to maintain her innocence,” defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu said after the hearing.

Fajardo has pleaded not guilty.

According to court records, Sanchez, 37, was set up and attacked in October 2012, when he was beaten with a tire iron — resulting in a broken nose, a broken arm and several cuts.

A week after the assault, detective Mark Vallely testified Monday, Fajardo said Sanchez had not been hurt enough. So she allegedly paid to have Sanchez kidnapped.

David Rodriguez Hernandez allegedly organized the crime and enlisted the aid of three men, aged 18 and 19.

“He instructed the boys to be sure to shoot Victor Sanchez in the kneecaps while he was still standing,” Vallely testified.

A route was designed for the men to take after Sanchez was abducted. Instead, one of the men, Edgar Ontiveros, shot and killed Sanchez in front of his apartment complex in February 2013.

The case, featuring many twists and an elaborate conspiracy, hinges much on the testimony of Christine Garner, who prosecutors say participated in the first assault and knew of the second.

Garner has pleaded no contest to robbery, conspiracy and accessory after the fact on the condition that she will receive an eight-year prison term. But she will not be formally sentenced until after she offers testimony in the Fajardo case.

Garner’s husband, Hernandez, is believed to be somewhere in Mexico.

Michael Rickerd, a detective with the Paso Robles Police Department, testified that he spoke to Fajardo twice after the murder. Fajardo allegedly told him she and Sanchez had been in a relationship for 10 years.

“She told me that Mr. Sanchez was an alcoholic and abusive,” Rickerd testified.

After an alleged incidence of domestic violence in 2012, Fajardo told him, she broke up with Sanchez.

“She told me that she loved him, but he would not change,” Rickerd said.

Sanchez does not have any criminal record in San Luis Obispo County for domestic abuse.

Fajardo also said Sanchez had engaged in sexual relationships with other women during their relationship, Rickerd testified.

In Fajardo’s purse, Rickerd said, he found a receipt for two rings that cost $5,000. He also found a journal containing a list of people that Fajardo, who was in the clothing business, had loaned money to, the amounts ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand.

According to police reports, Fajardo paid $12,000 to have Sanchez assaulted on two different occasions.

After the murder, Fajardo traveled to Georgia, where she stayed with a daughter and son-in-law. At the time, Fajardo had not been told she was a suspect in the Sanchez murder, and she was not told she couldn’t leave the state, Rickerd testified.

While the preliminary hearing offers the prosecution an opportunity to lay out some of its case, Funke-Bilu said the entire story is forthcoming.

“The truth is just percolating at this point,” he said. “And it’s going to finally come out at trial.”

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