SIERRA VISTA — A woman who found her son shot twice in the head and covered in Comet cleansing powder begged a judge to keep the accused killer in jail without bond.
But while Cochise County Superior Court Judge Laura Cardinal told the mother of homicide victim Ruperto Morales she understood her sorrow, Cardinal set bond at $1 million for accused killer Raul Navalles, saying the suspect — although a possible danger to the community — had no criminal record or any gang affiliation that she could find.
Navalles, a 19-year-old from Douglas, has been indicted on first degree murder, burglary in the first degree and armed robbery in the shooting death of the 42-year-old Morales.
Douglas investigators said the killing occurred Aug. 15, but they said Navalles vanished into Agua Prieta, Sonora, until he was found there by Mexican authorities and handed over to detectives Oct. 11 at the Douglas port of entry. At Tuesday’s bail evidentiary hearing, Douglas Police Detective Ivan Villaescusa testified that Mexican police told Douglas investigators Navalles had offered them $10,000 to let him go.
Douglas police said Morales’ mother, Sonia Aguilar, found Morales the afternoon of Aug. 16 when she returned from seeing relatives in Willcox. Aguilar attended the almost four-hour bail evidentiary hearing for Navalles on Tuesday, but sat mostly in the lobby unable to listen to the testimony about the killing or look at a large TV screen as images of her son’s remains were being shown in court.
“It was a nightmare finding my son,” Aguilar testified at the hearing. “My life has changed forever. For a mother to have to bury her son, it’s an awful dream and I can’t wake up.”
Aguilar said she could no longer stay in the three-bedroom house where she lived with Morales. She said she is in fear for her life and is always looking over her shoulder when she goes to the cemetery to visit his grave.
She left the courtroom sobbing. Two of Navalles’ relatives — including his mother — were crying when Aguilar spoke.
Though Navalles has not confessed to shooting Morales, he said “it was in self-defense” when interviewed by police, said Villaescusa and Assistant Cochise County Attorney Kristina Guerrero-Sisneroz.
The day Morales was shot he had gone to retrieve Navalles at the border between Douglas and Agua Prieta. Villaescusa said the two men were acquainted and Navalles had called the victim. They were joined by two other men, and all went to Morales’ residence in the 1300 block of Fourth Street in Douglas.
While at Morales’ residence, the men drank for hours. According to Morales’ autopsy, he also had done cocaine. It’s unclear whether one or both of the men who had joined Navalles and Morales had left the house, but Navalles told investigators Morales started getting violent and would not let him leave the residence.
Under the burglary and armed robbery counts listed in the indictment, it states that Navalles “acting either alone or with one or more other persons,” caused Morales’ death when committing the burglary and the armed robbery. Navalles is the only one listed in the indictment under the first degree murder count.
Other photos shown in the courtroom included the interior of Morales’ house, which showed ransacked bedrooms where items were stolen. After developing Navalles as their main suspect, investigators obtained a search warrant for a residence at the Casa de Esperanza Apartments on Bonita Drive in Douglas.
Villaescusa said Navalles lived at an apartment there, and one of the photos flashed on the TV screen in the courtroom showed a messy bedroom with an image of Santa Muerte — Saint Death — as the main decor in the space.
Viilaescusa said police found two rifles in the apartment, as well as two handguns, one of them the same caliber as the weapon used to kill Morales. They said they found property that belonged to Morales’ mother, including a new deep fryer. Detectives also found a large plastic black box with a yellow lid inside a garbage can that someone at the Navalles apartment had put out for collection. The plastic box was identical to several found inside Morales’ house.
Defense attorney Rodrigo Andrade argued there was no proof that Navalles actually lived at the apartment, although someone with the same last name was registered as the renter. Andrade also said none of the evidence presented by Villaescusa pointed to premeditated murder. He asked that his client be released on $100,000 bond.
In her comments at the end of the hearing, Cardinal said the case would be designated “complex” — that gives attorneys more time to prepare for trial — and she realized that evidence was still being developed.
The judge addressed the handcuffed Navalles directly, telling him that if he does post the hefty bond, he would be required to wear a GPS monitor, would not be allowed to leave the U.S. and would not be permitted to speak to any of the witnesses in the case. The defendant nodded eagerly with each admonition.
Navalles’ next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13.