Las Vegas Sun

May 26, 2015

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California man brought to Las Vegas to face murder charges

Case involves alleged 2004 drug-related slaying

A California inmate has been extradited to Las Vegas to face murder charges in connection with the 2004 slaying of Juan Carlos Casillas.

Manuel Rodriguez, 33, was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on Wednesday on charges of murder with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit murder, according to jail records.

Casillas was found fatally shot in the head Feb. 6, 2004, in the laundry room of the Pinewood Apartments located at 3601 S. Cambridge Ave., according to an arrest report.

A witness to the slaying told detectives two men, known by their gang names “Shorty” and “Youngster,” shot Casillas during a drug deal, the arrest report alleges.

Investigators entered DNA from a cigarette butt found at the scene into a national database. In August 2004, the California Department of Justice identified Michael William Cintron, who also went by the name Manuel Solis Rodriguez, as the DNA source for the cigarette butt, according to the arrest report.

Detectives learned Rodriguez was a member of the La Peunte 13 gang, and his moniker was “Youngster,” police noted in the arrest report.

Detectives interviewed Rodriguez a few months later at the Clark County Detention Center, where he denied involvement in the slaying of Casillas. Police took a buccal swab for Rodriguez’s DNA and verified that he could not be excluded as the DNA source found on the cigarette butt, according to the arrest report.

The witness to the homicide also positively identified Rodriguez as the suspect in a photo lineup, police noted.

Meanwhile, detectives researched gang files for a La Puente 13 member known as “Shorty.” They found one with that moniker, identified as Gary Francisco Martinez, who fit the witness’ description of the other suspect, according to the police report.

The witness positively identified Martinez during a photo lineup, the arrest report alleges.

A warrant for the arrests of Martinez and Rodriguez was issued Oct. 23, 2007. The trial date for Martinez, who is in custody at the detention center, is set for Dec. 5.

It’s unclear what charges Rodriguez was serving time for in California before his extradition to Las Vegas.

Rodriguez is being held in the detention center without bail, according to jail records. He is scheduled to appear before a judge Friday.

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