Stock photo

Stock photo

Man charged in Kent killing reportedly drove victim’s car with body in back

Fatally shot man in head in back seat; kept car for 3 days before abandoning it on West Hill

A 19-year-old Bonney Lake man faces a first-degree murder charge for allegedly shooting a 23-year-old Bonney Lake man on Oct. 15 in Kent.

King County prosecutors charged Kevyn Mota-Navarro on Nov. 1 for killing Joel Cruz-Rizo while he was in his vehicle in the parking lot of a Dollar Tree store, 23406 Pacific Highway S. Mota-Navarro and his brother then reportedly stole the vehicle and drove around for a couple of days with the dead body in the back seat before abandoning the car in the 2700 block of South 256th Place near the Buena Casa Apartments.

Mota-Navarro is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 15 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. He remains in custody at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle with bail set at $1 million.

“The cold-blooded nature of this alleged homicide, coupled with the apparent disregard the defendant showed toward the victim after his death, including his driving the victim’s car in the following days with the victim’s corpse in the back seat, demonstrates the accused’s callous indifference and his dangerousness to the community,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Seaver in charging documents.

The incident started when Kent Police responded at about 11:37 p.m. Oct. 15 to the Dollar Tree store for a shooting at the parking lot. When officers arrived, they found no evidence of a shooting. A couple of people nearby heard shots fired.

On Oct. 16, friends of Cruz-Rizo began to look for him because they heard he had been shot at the Dollar Tree store the night before and although police responded, neither he nor his vehicle was found.

Around 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 16, the two friends spotted Cruz-Rizo’s 2007 Nissan Altima in the drive-thru of the Ladybug Espresso stand at 24816 Pacific Highway S. One friend approached the Altima on foot and confronted the two men in the car and asked them if they had killed Cruz-Rizo. The passenger produced a gun as did the person who walked up to the car.

A barista called 911 to report the incident but all of those involved had fled before police arrived.

Two days later, at about 2:45 p.m. on Oct. 18, officers were dispatched to the 2700 block of South 256th Place for a report of a suspicious circumstance. The Altima belonging to Cruz-Rizo was parked at the location with the doors locked and it appeared there was a body in the back seat.

An officer broke the front driver’s door window to check on the man in the car. They found he was obviously deceased.

The friends who had been looking for Cruz-Rizo also were on the scene and told police they had been looking for him and his vehicle.

One of them said he had been with Cruz-Rizo the night he was shot. The plan was to ingest narcotics inside the car, a group that included Mota-Navarro. But an argument broke out, and Mota-Navarro reportedly demanded to know where Cruz-Rizo’s gold necklace was. He also told Cruz-Rizo not to run or he would shoot him.

Then Mota-Navarro allegedly shot Cruz-Rizo, who died in the back seat. All fled the scene.

Cruz-Rizo died from gunshot wounds to his left thigh, his right torso and one to his skull, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Police located and arrested Mota-Navarro on Oct. 28. He admitted to shooting Cruz-Rizo, aka “Lil Man,” claiming that he disrespected him and his brother. He said he shot him in the leg first and then in the arm. He then told him to get in the back seat of the car and he shot him a final time in the head, killing him.

Mota-Navarro said he and his brother and a friend came back later to steal the car of Cruz-Rizo so his body wouldn’t be found. He said they drove the Altima with the deceased body in the back seat to the area near their apartment. He admitted the next day they drove to the espresso stand on the West Hill.

That’s where he said they were confronted by a female about the car and Cruz-Rizo. He told police he later parked the car at the location where it was found.

A search warrant for the residence of Mota-Navarro was executed and detectives found a black Glock style firearm, items of clothing worn during the shooting and property that belonged to Cruz-Rizo.

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