Former Suspect In Carina Saunders’ Murder Suing Bethany Police

Friday, February 21st 2014, 7:54 pm
By: News 9

A former suspect in the gruesome murder of 19-year-old Carina Saunders is suing police for wrongful arrest.

In a federal lawsuit, Luis Ruiz claims a flawed investigation put him behind bars. The discrepancies in the case are spelled out in a 27-page federal lawsuit against the Bethany Police Department, Chief Phil Cole and the detectives who first handled Carina's Saunders murder case.

Ruiz and his defense alleged Bethany Police "used illegal tactics to manipulate and fabricate the criminal case" against Ruiz and his alleged co-conspirator Jimmy Massey.

The court papers claimed former Detectives Austin Warfield and Jack Jencks "coerced a confession of Jimmy Massey" in which he falsely admitted to his role in the dismemberment of 19-year-old Carina Saunders. Her body was found in duffle bags in Oct. 2011.

The suit also insists the detectives falsified police report and manipulated known drug addicts into giving statements to cover up the flaws in the investigation.

Ruiz alleged public pressure caused detectives to ignore information that could prove his innocence - specifically - that he was in police custody on the same day detectives claimed he killed Saunders.

Prosecutors later dismissed murder charges against Ruiz and Massey due to "inconsistencies within the Probable Cause Affidavits." Ruiz is now requesting compensation for lost wages and punitive damages for his wrongful arrest.

His attorney, Derek Chance, issued the following statement:

"The actions taken by the Bethany police department in this case should be troubling to all citizens. This suit is not intended to minimize the atrocity of the homicide victim, but to hold law enforcement to a standard of due process and fair play."  

"To simply manipulate people and evidence in an effort to calm a community that is justifiably concerned with an atrocious crime is not proper. This investigation was littered with errors, omissions and bad acts of the Bethany Police Department, as learned by the OSBI, Mr. Prater when the charges were dismissed and Luis was released from custody. As bad as it has been on Luis and his family, it has been equally harmful to our community."

"Bethany Police Department wasted critical time manipulating the investigation, instead of following the evidence to the actual perpetrators of this crime. Their acts and omissions may very well result in this horrific crime going unsolved, that is inexcusable and not fair to this community and the Saunders' family."

The City of Bethany released this statement:

"It is the policy of the City of Bethany not to discuss pending legislation. We have received no information in reference to a pending lawsuit at this time."

City officials previously confirmed both detectives on the case, Warfield and Jencks, have been fired. Jencks has been criminally charged for tampering with police evidence.