An Escondido teenager accused of beating a good friend to death and posting audio of the victim’s cries on Snapchat told investigators he followed the "ride or die" creed from the movie "Fast & Furious."
Testimony heard Tuesday in a pretrial hearing revealed the possible motive behind a brutal and bizarre homicide between two men described as "close friends."
Maithem Alfuraiji, 20, was beaten to death and dumped in a remote area of San Diego County, according to Escondido police. The victim's friend, Salvador Sanchez, bragged on social media that he was responsible for Alfuraiji's death, homicide investigators allege.
Sanchez listened Tuesday as investigators walked through a mountain of evidence gathered in just a matter of days. The evidence includes audio and images posted to Snapchat, white clothes found covered in the victim's blood, the statement from a friend who helped transport the victim's body and the defendant's alleged confession to police.
For the first time, investigators revealed a possible motive for the killing.
“He has a creed based on the movie series ‘Fast and Furious’ of "ride or die" so you have to be loyal to him to the end including death,” Escondido Police Det. John O’Donnell said of the defendant. “He said he lived that creed among the crew or squad he was part of.”
Sanchez and Alfuraiji met on April 27 at Mountain View Park to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol. They talked about the car accident Alfuraiji had experienced that morning and Sanchez expressed frustration that he was a high school graduate who was mowing lawns, an investigator testified.
At one point, Sanchez challenged Alfuraiji to fight to the death, investigators said.
Sanchez was a champion wrestler at Escondido High School and described using some wrestling holds in the fight with the victim, O'Donnell said. He described using a "double trouble" and a "cross face" to get the victim to the ground, police said.
As O'Donnell testified, the initial fight was two to three minutes and after that Sanchez told police he held Alfuraiji’s face to his chest for about a minute. After that, the defendant could not find a pulse on the victim, O'Donnell said.
"He said he held Mr. Alfuraiji in a headlock until Mr. Alfuraiji died," Escondido Police Det. Gregory Gay testified referring to a police interview with the defendant.
Sanchez, 19, kept the clothes he wore that night on a shelf in his closet, Gay said. A hoodie, T-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes all were white and all had blood on them, he said.
Deputy District Attorney Claudia Plascencia, who entered images of the clothing covered in blood as evidence, told reporters the white clothing was to symbolize purity.
When asked why the defendant told police he kept the clothing in his room, Gay said, “he said he wanted them for trophies."
Plascencia said the defendant worked for his father's landscaping company. She said the investigation was ongoing as to what may have prompted him to attack his good friend.
“The defendant, the victim and their two friends were a very tight, close group,” Plascencia said. “They were so close they ride together or they die together. We know that this was the bond between these four men.”
Both detectives also testified as to a possible motive in the case.
“Maithem was doing dangerous things and he was working outside of their small group or crew. Placing them in danger, placing their family in danger and it was just necessary for him to kill,” Gay testified.
Under cross-examination, O'Donnell said the defendant expressed to investigators that he feared for the safety of himself and for his family as well as Alfuraiji's family.
At the end of the preliminary hearing, Sanchez was bound over for trial on a first-degree murder charge. He entered a not guilty plea through his public defender. A trial date was set for September 12.