Last October, Victor Hugo Sanchez, 37, was allegedly set up by a mystery woman, whose invitation for a hookup turned into a beating that left Sanchez bleeding from his head, face, arms and legs.
Four months later, Sanchez was gunned down outside a Paso Robles apartment complex in a crime authorities say was orchestrated by the same ex-girlfriend who organized the beating and fake hookup.
Tuesday, one of the five suspects in the assault case appeared in court for a pretrial hearing that was postponed to Monday. Christine Garner, 25, has pleaded not guilty in the case.
She is also a suspect in the murder of Sanchez, along with her sister, Crystal Lynn Garner, 26; Christine Garner’s husband, David Rodriguez Hernandez, 37; Crystal Garner’s boyfriend, Joseph Villarreal Jr., 24; and Sanchez’s ex-girlfriend, Maria del Carmen Granados Fajardo, 49.
Hernandez is believed to be in Mexico, while Fajardo is fighting extradition in Georgia.
The District Attorney’s Office has not yet filed murder charges against the suspects, but police believe the attack is linked to the murder.
According to the Sheriff’s Office report, the following occurred:
On Oct. 5, after playing soccer in Paso Robles, Sanchez received a text message from someone who wrote, “I want to hook up.” Sanchez didn’t recognize the number, so he called it, and the woman who answered the phone identified herself as Crystal. The woman told Sanchez they’d previously met at a bar on 12th Street and that she wanted to meet him there again in three hours.
Later, Sanchez arrived at Pappy McGregor’s Bar & Grill in Paso Robles to meet the woman, whom he did not recognize.
Eventually, Sanchez and the woman left the bar, the woman saying she wanted to have sex with Sanchez. As the woman drove Sanchez’s car along Highway 46, a white sedan began following them. Eventually, the woman pulled over in Templeton to let the car pass. But the other driver, a man, made a U-turn, pulled up behind Sanchez’s car, got out of his sedan and asked if everything was OK.
Eventually, the man opened the driver’s side door of Sanchez’s car, and the woman walked to the sedan with him. He then returned to Sanchez’s car with a pipe wrench.
Sanchez attempted to drive away, but the woman had taken the keys, and the sedan driver began smashing the glass on Sanchez’s car. Sanchez exited the vehicle, and the man from the sedan began pummeling him with the wrench. Meanwhile, two women in the sedan yelled for the attacker to hit Sanchez in the legs and take his wallet and phone.
Nearby residents interrupted the assault, and the attackers fled.
When police arrived, Sanchez was covered in blood, with large lacerations on the back of his head and above his left eye.
Sanchez, who suffered a broken arm and nose, provided key details to investigators, which eventually helped identify the suspects.
But, investigators believe, the attackers weren’t done.
On Feb. 23, around 9:30 p.m., Sanchez was standing outside an apartment complex in Paso Robles when family members inside the complex heard gunshots.
Sanchez, found lying on the ground, was dead by the time emergency rescue personnel arrived.
Gallery: Photos of the five suspects »