FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Thursday, May 08, 2014
CONTACT: Sara Rabern (605)773-3215
South Dakota Supreme Court Rules that Diaz Murder Confession is Admissible
PIERRE, S.D – Attorney General Marty Jackley and Hanson County States Attorney Jim Davies announced today the South Dakota Supreme Court has reversed a trial court decision suppressing Maricela Diaz's confession to the murder of 16 year-old Jasmine Guevara. On November 10, 2009, law enforcement responded to a call regarding a vehicle fire in rural Hanson County, South Dakota. Victim Jasmine Guevara’s remains were discovered in the trunk of the vehicle. Although she had multiple stab wounds, an autopsy revealed that she had been burned alive. A subsequent investigation disclosed that the victim was lured to the scene under false pretenses, stabbed, and left in the vehicle, which was started on fire with lighter fluid.
"Our Supreme Court has determined that Ms. Diaz was fully informed of her Miranda rights in both English and Spanish, and that she knowingly and intelligently waived those rights,” said Jackley. “We are pleased with the decision and ready to move forward with the jury trial.”
The Supreme Court reversed the trial court decision concluded that Diaz knowingly and intelligently waived her Miranda rights. The Supreme Court found that Diaz received her Miranda rights twice in English and once in Spanish. Diaz lied to law enforcement about her age, name and whereabouts and continued to conspire with co-defendant and boyfriend Alexander Salgado, through the walls of the interview rooms in order to better deceive law enforcement. The Court recognized that the time of day and length of interview was reasonable and that any delay was attributed to Diaz’s deception. The Court continued to say the Diaz was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of questioning and the questioning was conversational with no threats towards her.
On November 24, 2009, Alexander Salgado, 25, Ft. Wayne, Indiana/ Guerrero, Mexico, was indicted for the murder of 16 year-old Jasmine Guevara. Salgado plead guilty to second-degree murder on August 30, 2010, and is currently serving a life sentence without parole at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
Diaz was indicted on August 5, 2011 on the following charges: Count 1 alleges first degree murder, class A felony, with mandatory life in prison; Count 2 alleges felony murder arson, class A felony, with mandatory life in prison; Count 3 alleges first degree arson, class 2 felony, with maximum penalty of 25 years in prison; Count 4 alleges felony murder kidnapping class A felony, with a mandatory life in prison; and Count 5 alleges second-degree aggravated kidnapping class 1 felony, with a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.
The Diaz jury trial is scheduled to take place in Sioux Falls on a date yet to be scheduled. Change of venue had been moved from Hanson County to Minnehaha County.