Mexican Fugitive Returned to Riverside County, Accused of Killing Manuel Ley in 2004

Patch file photo by Guy McCarthy
Patch file photo by Guy McCarthy
Authorities brought a man to Riverside County on Friday and accused him of killing Manuel Ley, who was found dead in a Coachella residence in 2004, a D.A.'s spokesman said.

Walter Cuevas Gastelum, 29, of Mexico, is charged with one count of murder with an enhancement of personally using a firearm, John Hall of the District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Ley's body was found inside a residence on Van Buren Street in Coachella on April 12, 2004, Hall said.

Gastelum was apprehended in June 2013 in Sonora, Mexico, Hall said.

Here's more from the D.A.'s announcement:

The weapon believed used in Ley's murder was a shotgun. Gastelum fled the United States after the murder and was believed to be in Mexico.

Riverside County District Attorney's investigators assigned to the U.S. Marshal's Pacific Regional Fugitive Task Force provided information to Mexican law enforcement authorities as to the possible whereabouts of the 

On June 12, 2013, Gastelum was apprehended in Sonora, Mexico on the outstanding murder warrant.

Gastelum fought extradition to the U.S., but on Dec. 30, 2013, that was denied. The morning of Jan. 10, 2014, members of the Fugitive Task Force picked up Gastelum in Mexico City and flew back to Los Angeles 
International Airport with the wanted man.

He was then transported to Indio to be interviewed and booked.

An investigation at the time of the murder revealed the following:

On April 11, 2004 - the day before the victim's body was found - Gastelum was at his aunt's home and told her that he had killed someone at his 
uncle's ranch.

Gastelum then reportedly took keys to his aunt's boyfriend's car without permission and fled. That car was found in Mexico on April 15, 2004.

It is believed, based on interviews done by homicide investigators after the murder, that there had been some sort of disagreement or argument between Gastelum and the victim after which Gastelum shot and killed Ley.

There was no information available Friday afternoon about the date or courtroom for Gastelum's arraignment.


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