San Diego

Jury Trial Set for Escondido Teen Accused in Friend's ‘SnapChat Murder'

Salvador Alejandro Sanchez, 19, is accused in the April 2017 killing of Maithem Alfuraiji during an alcohol-fueled fight – part of which wound up on social media

An Escondido teenager who allegedly killed his friend and posted audio of the victim’s cries on the social media app, SnapChat, will face a jury next year who will determine if he’s guilty, and if he’s sane.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said Friday that a jury trial date of Feb. 20, 2018, has been set for Salvador Alejandro Sanchez, 19. He is accused in the April 2017 murder of Maithem Alfuraiji, 20.

Sanchez has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

In October, court-appointed doctors were assigned to evaluate the suspect’s sanity. At this point, the DA’s office said there will be no mental competency test for Sanchez but rather a jury will decide if he was sane at the time of the murder.

The DA’s office said the trial would be split into two parts: the guilt phase and the sanity phase. First, the jury will decide if Sanchez is guilty of murder. If the jury decides that is the case, the group will then have to decide on the sanity issue.

Alfuraiji was last seen on April 27, 2017. He was on his way to meet a friend but never showed up. Three days later, his body was found in Valley Center.

Sanchez was soon arrested in connection with the slaying.

Escondido police said Sanchez got into a fight with Alfuraiji while they were drinking alcohol, which resulted in Alfuraiji's death. 

In court earlier this year, the evidence presented by prosecutors included audio and images posted by Sanchez to SnapChat, white clothes found covered in the victim's blood, a statement from a friend who helped transport Alfuraiji's body and the defendant's alleged confession to police.

According to Alexander Gendron, a friend of both Sanchez and Alfuraiji, Sanchez posted on Snapchat that he "did it."

If convicted, Sanchez faces 25 years to life in prison.

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