First-degree murder charges may soon be filed against one, or possibly all of the men, that police believe may have dismembered Carina Saunders. That is what prosecutors are telling the defense attorneys of four possible murder suspects.
A total of five men could be charged with murder as early as next week. Four of them are currently in jail on separate charges. One is on the loose.
It has been more than eight months since police found Saunders stuffed in a duffel bag behind a Bethany grocery store. Now, it appears the state may have strong enough evidence to proceed.
The teenager was found cut into pieces last October. The state in which her body was found has many people calling it one of the most gruesome and heinous murder cases the Oklahoma City metropolitan area has seen in years. According to one defense attorney, that is a reason why murder charges have still not been filed eight months later.
"My guess is [the prosecution] is going to be seeking the highest punishment that [murder] carries, so [the District Attorney's Office is] going to be careful about that," criminal defense attorney Tony Coleman said, who represents Alejandro Rojas.
Rojas, Jimmy Lee Massey, Francisco Gomez, and Luis Arturo Soto are currently jailed on drug charges. Police are still looking for Edgar Alberto Gonzalez-Olivas. Police believe one, some, or all five of the men have either direct or indirect involvement in the killing of Saunders.
According to Coleman, the state plans to finally label the person or persons it believes is responsible.
"[The defense attorneys] were assured that within the next 10 days or so, murder charges would be forthcoming," Coleman said. "The state would not go into any detail as to whom these charges would be brought against."
In the meantime, the attorneys representing Massey, Rojas, Gomez, and Soto are left frustrated and in limbo by not being able to proceed with the current drug-related cases.
"Our right to proceed in a timely fashion as guaranteed under the Constitution is gradually being infringed upon, Coleman said.
The Oklahoma County DA's Office is currently not commenting on the Saunders case. A preliminary hearing on the drug charges has been continued for July 20, 2012.
Coleman says his client and some of the other defendants have not been able to bond out of jail because they are undocumented immigrants.