Person of interest in triple homicide indicted on federal ammunition charge, detained
Juan Camarena, 51, appeared in federal court Wednesday after being indicted on a federal charge of being a felon in possession of ammunition.
Evidence of the alleged crime was discovered during Alaska State Troopers’ investigation into a triple slaying off Knik-Goose Bay Road — a separate case in which Camarena has been identified as a person of interest.
All the victims were shot to death with .40-caliber bullets.
Investigators narrowed down Camarena as a person of interest in the case.
An officer with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched a trailer Camarena was staying in and found 16 live rounds of different caliber ammunition, including a .40.
It’s illegal for a person convicted of a felony to possess firearms or ammunition.
Camarena’s criminal history dates back to 1987, when he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. He was also previously charged with murder in California.
Federal prosecutors list that 1993 second-degree murder charge as one reason he should remain in custody until his trial, though it appears Camarena was not convicted in that case.
On Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Vandergaw filed a motion that outlined Camarena’s previous felony convictions, including possessing meth with the intent to distribute and evading a peace officer.
Court documents show Camarena pleaded guilty to participating in a criminal street gang in California in 2015.
In Camarena’s trailer, investigators found a live round “on a shelf directly below his paperwork documenting his release from the California Bureau of Prisons.”
Vandergaw said, “So rarely does this Court have before it a felon in possession charge where the evidence documenting the felony conviction is merely one shelf away from the prohibited item.”
Troopers have not named a suspect in the murders and so far have only said Camarena is a person of interest.
Federal prosecutors urged the judge to keep Camarena in jail Wednesday, saying he has committed a “lifetime” of offenses, poses a threat to the community and is a flight risk.
“The defendant’s violent history, along with the recent accusations show that there are no conditions that the (sic) can protect the community from danger and assure his appearance to future court dates,” Vandergaw wrote.
Camarena’s defense attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and argued that while his client’s criminal history is lengthy, he has always followed his conditions of release while on supervision.
The judge sided with Vandergaw and ordered Camarena be detained.
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