A vigil was held Sunday for a 20-year-old who police say was brutally killed by a close friend in April.
Salvador Alejandro Sanchez, 19, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Maithem Alfuraiji who was found dead in Valley Center April 30.If convicted he faces 25 years to life.
Sanchez got into a fight with Alfuraiji while drinking, resulting in Alfuraiji’s death, Escondido police said.
Sanchez was arrested three days later during a traffic stop.
“He [Alfuraiji] was a great kid. He loved everything,” Anne Lightoller, mother to one of Alfuraiji’s friends, said through tears. “They’d all graduated high school. This was a great summer they were going to have … He didn’t deserve to go like he did – at all. It’s shocking and tragic. “Both kids lost their lives that night.”
Lightoller said she went to see Sanchez in jail. “He really does not comprehend that he’s facing life in prison.” She said she asked for forgiveness and she told him if he meant it “God forgives you.”
“We will see Maithem again,” she added.
Alexander Gendron and Kevin Rosado were both close friends to Alfuraiji.
“I don’t even have words,” Rosado began quietly. “This is a tragedy … He would never ask for anything in return for his friendship.”
Gendron explained that Alfuraiji was like a brother to him, and once when he was homeless Alfuraiji let him sleep on his floor.
“He used to just pick me up and take care of me like a brother. I love that dude,” he said.
Gendron said Sanchez was bragging on Snapchat that he “did it” and said his face in the video showed “no remorse.”
He said he was concerned about Alfuraiji because no had heard from him, and when he asked Sanchez about him Sanchez said, “Don’t worry about Maithem, he’s in a better place now.”
Gendron and Rosado said they later went over to Sanchez’s home and asked him if he killed Alfuraiji. Sanchez looked at them, they explained, smirked and said “yeah, you don’t believe me?”
Rosado said he thinks Sanchez planned the murder. Sanchez also showed them clothes covered in blood at his home, according to Rosado.
A woman who has known the suspect told NBC 7 Sanchez used Snapchat to say that God told him to create a list of people to kill. The snap was posted approximately one month ago, the woman said.
Eventually Rosado and Gendron spoke to Escondido police. “I still, in a sense, don’t believe my friend is gone, you know? Even here it hasn’t fully hit me yet,” Gendron added. “I pray justice happens and I pray God’s looking over Maithem right now.”