The five people charged in connection with Sunday’s double-homicide investigation on Safari Dr. made their first court appearance Friday.
Omar Martinez-Velez, 34, Luis Omar Robles-Vargas, 31, Alexi Martinez-Andino, 19, Luz A. Figueroa-Castillo, 29, and Raymond Jimenez Bencebi, Jr., 26 all from St. Joseph were each charged with a felony for second-degree murder in connection with the shooting deaths of Kevilee (Kevin) Villegas-Melendez, 22 and Raymond Gonzalez-Ortiz, 25 . Each defendant appeared Friday morning by video conference from the Buchanan County Jail.
Several of the defendants appeared for their arraignment with an interpreter. Police have previously confirmed their background from Puerto Rico but that they are St. Joseph residents.
According to court documents all five of the defendants were in the area of Lion Rd. and Safari Dr. Sunday and had a loaded firearm at the time multiple rounds were fired from several weapons striking and causing the death of Villegas-Melendez and Ortiz. Each defendant is accused of firing numerous rounds at the victims striking both of them.
Police Chief Chris Connally has said previously in reference to this case that police believe this was a situation that involved career criminals.
As we previously reported, extra security measures were taken Friday morning at the Buchanan County Courthouse for the arraignments.
Cpl. Sarah Hardin with the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office said extra personnel was on hand because of the high-profile case. She said offices inside the courthouse are closed today due to decisions individual offices made. The municipal court also closed until 1 p.m.
The St. Joseph Police Department began investigating shots fired Monday on Delaware in connection with Sunday’s double-homicide investigation. Court documents show that area is near the home of two of the defendants in this case.
Preliminary hearings were set Friday at separate times for each of the defendants. Martinez-Velez for Aug. 22 at 1 p.m., Robles-Vargas Aug. 18 at 3 p.m., Martinez-Andino Aug. 11 at 3 p.m., Figueroa-Castillo Aug. 19 at 1 p.m., and Bencebi Aug. 19 at 9 a.m.