3 more suspects arrested in murder case

CARLSBAD — Three additional suspects were arrested April 11 in connection with the shooting death and robbery of 63-year-old Michael Michel Sahagun, who was found deceased by police at his Valley Street residence April 1.
This latest number of arrested suspects totals six people who have all been charged with homicide or in connection with Sahagun’s death.
The three who were arrested 10 days after the murder include Heather Strauch, 32, and Michael Gualt, 30, who were arrested on homicide, residential robbery and conspiracy charges, and Joseph Verdake, 34, who was arrested on charges that include homicide, residential robbery, residential burglary and conspiracy, according to the Carlsbad Police Department.
At 1 a.m. April 1, neighbors called police and reported hearing gunshots and seeing three people fleeing from the garage at the 3000 block of Valley Street, according to Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco.
Upon police response, Sahagun was found deceased in his garage at his Valley Street residence, which is near Carlsbad Village Drive.
All suspects fled the scene before police arrived, according to authorities.
According to the medical examiner’s office, the victim died at 1:24 a.m. of a shotgun wound to the chest.
The three additional suspects were arrested after an investigation led authorities to a search of
a residence in the 2300 block of Ron Way in San Diego.
Police said in a release that evidence turned up related to Sahagun’s homicide during that investigation on Ron Way that stemmed from a state search warrant.
Prior to the apprehension of the three latest suspects in Sahagun’s murder, there were three arrests made of suspects on the day following his death.
The three original suspects arrested in connection with Sahagun’s murder were found by Carlsbad Police SWAT officers at 4 a.m., April 2, in a room at Motel 6 on 3708 Plaza Drive, according to the Carlsbad Police Department.
Grant MacGregor Hunter, 23, and Mercedes Tiffany Yorba, 19, were arrested, booked into jail and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and conspiracy. Gary Dean Gomez, 26, was also arrested for possession of narcotics and aiding and abetting after the homicide, Sgt. Mickey Williams of the Carlsbad Police Department said.
During their court arraignments on April 6, the prosecutor said that the victim was targeted by Hunter and Yorba in a preplanned attempted robbery of the victim’s house.
All three of the original suspects each pleaded not guilty to their charges at their April 6 hearing.
Williams said that it’s quite possible there may be more suspects outstanding, and that police are continuing their investigation.
The six suspects all remained booked in the Vista Detention Facility, and police are requesting that anyone with information related to this homicide, please call (760) 931-2197.


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