King County prosecutors charge second man for murders of three men found near Kent

King County prosecutors charged a second man Monday in the December shooting deaths of three Pierce County men whose bodies were found in March at a nursery in unincorporated Kent.

King County Sheriff's Office investigators examine the scene March 10 where three men's bodies were found at a nursery in unincorporated Kent. Two men have been charged in the past week with first-degree murder in connection with the deaths.

King County Sheriff's Office investigators examine the scene March 10 where three men's bodies were found at a nursery in unincorporated Kent. Two men have been charged in the past week with first-degree murder in connection with the deaths.

King County prosecutors charged a second man Monday in the December shooting deaths of three Pierce County men whose bodies were found in March at a nursery in unincorporated Kent.

Jose Alfredo Velez-Fombona, 25, of Kent, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, according to a King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office media release.

Co-defendant Alberto Avila-Cardenas, 36, of Lakewood was charged May 12 with three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths on Dec. 12 of Jesus Bejar-Avila, 25, Yazmani Quezada-Ortiz, 26 and Cristian Alberto Rangel, 19.

Both Avila-Cardenas and Velez-Fombona remain in custody at the King County jail in Seattle with bail set at $10 million each. They are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges May 26 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

“The defendant’s actions – the kidnapping and premeditated and intentional murder of three men, followed by the disposal of their bodies, demonstrate that he presents an extreme danger to the community,” wrote Scott O’Toole, King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney, in charging documents, about Velez-Fombona.

Prosecutors also asked for the high bail because both men are believed to be citizens of Mexico and if released would have little incentive to appear at trial. They also are considered flight risks because of the potential for a long sentence.

The murder charges include firearm enhancements. If convicted as charged, each defendant faces a sentence range of 75 to 95 years in prison, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office and the Lakewood Police continue to investigate the case. It is possible a third man also was involved in the kidnapping and murders, according to court documents. Detectives believe the Kent man and at least one other man picked up Avila-Cardenas at his home the morning of Dec. 12 in Lakewood.

The bodies of the three men were found March 10 by an employee of Rainier Nursery near the West Valley Highway, in the 26200 block of 65th Avenue South. The three men had been shot in the head and then buried. Their hands were bound.

Cell phone records of Avila-Cardenas and Velez-Fombona show the two men and other suspect or suspects traveled Dec. 12 to the Lake Union florist shop where Avila-Bejar, Quezada-Ortiz and Rangel worked. They waited until the men got off work at about 3 p.m.

Cell phone records indicate Avila-Cardenas and Velez-Fombona and others traveled south, likely on Interstate 5, at around 3:30 p.m. The same records show the men arrived at about 4 p.m. in the area of the Rainier Nursery, and then leaving the nursery about 5:50 p.m.

The records then show Avila-Cardenas, Velez-Fombona and others in the area of the resident of the Kent man, just a few miles from the nursery.

King County Sheriff’s Office detectives served a search warrant May 12 on the residence of Velez-Fombona. They found the cell phone used in the Dec. 12 calls as well as a goldish-colored GMC Yukon bearing Oregon plates, expected to be the same vehicle a witness saw when at least two men picked up Avila-Cardenas Dec. 12 at his Lakewood home.

Detectives arrested Velez-Fombona May 12 in Tukwila.

Avila-Cardenas previously worked with at least two of the men at a Lake Union florist shop in Seattle. The motive for the killings appears to be connected with a shooting in Lakewood that resulted in the death of two people and a foot injury to Avila-Cardenas, according to charging papers. It is believed that a cousin of Quezada-Ortiz may have been the shooter in the incident.

When interviewed by detectives, Velez-Fombona said he only knew about the murders from media reports. He said he loaned his Yukon and cell phone to someone else during the time of the murders. He said he did not recall that person’s name and that person subsequently went to Mexico.

Velez-Fombona then requested an attorney and the interview with detectives ended, according to charging papers.


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