Valley Center

Escondido Teen Pleads Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity in Snapchat Killing

Evidence presented by prosecutors includes audio and images posted to Snapchat and white clothes found covered in the victim's blood.

A not guilty by reason of insanity plea was entered Monday on behalf of an Escondido teenager accused of killing a close friend and posting audio of the victim’s cries on Snapchat.

Salvador Alejandro Sanchez, 19, is accused of killing 20-year-old Maithem Alfuraiji.

Alfuraiji was last seen alive on Thursday, April 27 before he met his good friend in Mountain View Park where they were going to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol, homicide investigators said. His body was found in Valley Center on April 30.

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.

Evidence presented by prosecutors at a pretrial hearing 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.

Escondido Police Det. John O’Donnell testified in May that the defendant has a creed based on the movie series ‘Fast and Furious.’

"Ride or die" so you have to be loyal to him to the end including death,” O'Donnell said of the defendant. “He said he lived that creed among the crew or squad he was part of.”

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.

Alexander Gendron and Kevin Rosado were both close friends to Alfuraiji.

Gendron said Sanchez was bragging on Snapchat that he “did it.” He added that he believed the expression on Sanchez' face in the video showed “no remorse.”

Sanchez also showed them clothes covered in blood at his home, according to Rosado.

Prosecutors argue Sanchez kept the bloodied clothing in his room as trophies.

O'Donnell also testified the defendant expressed to investigators that he feared for the safety of himself and for his family as well as Alfuraiji's family.

Sanchez is scheduled to return to court Oct. 10 for a status conference. If convicted, Sanchez faces 25 years to life. 

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