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Los Banos Homicide Hearing Delayed After Two Witnesses Testify

MERCED - A homicide case from 2010 was postponed again this week after two witnesses testified during a preliminary hearing in Merced County Superior Court.

Carlos Anthony Gallegos, 29, of Salinas, has pleaded not guilty to murder and carjacking in the death of Jorge Luis Zamora, 54, who was found shot to death June 29, 2010, in his apartment on I Street in Los Banos. Officers discovered the body after neighbors reported an odor coming from his home, police said

Two witnesses testified Monday that Gallegos had admitted to killing Zamora, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office confirmed.

One of the witnesses, a confidential informant who was jailed with Gallegos in Monterey County, testified that Gallegos admitted his involvement in the murder while he and Gallegos were in custody together, according to Walter Wall, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case.

Wall confirmed that witness is also a cooperating witness in an unrelated homicide case in Monterey County, but the witness is not receiving any credit or deals for his cooperation in Merced County.

“He’s not getting any benefit from testifying here in this case,” Wall said.

A second witness also testified that Gallegos admitted killing Zamora. She acknowledged using methamphetamine with Gallegos in the past, prosecutors confirmed.

Gallegos’ attorney, Jeffrey Tenenbaum, said his client “looks forward to his trial.”

“We certainly question the credibility of those two witnesses,” Tenenbaum said Tuesday. “Mr. Gallegos continues to maintain his innocence.”

Scheduling conflicts for the defense caused the preliminary hearing to be delayed and rescheduled by Judge Mark V. Bacciarini for Feb. 23, according to court records.

The co-defendant in the case, Yadira Garcia Cervantes, 33, of Los Banos, pleaded no contest last year to a single felony count of robbery in connection with the case, officials said.

Police said Zamora’s wallet, keys and vehicle were missing from the home. Detectives tracked the missing vehicle to Gallegos’ home in Salinas and found some of Zamora’s property inside. Police said Gallegos and Cervantes were seen driving Zamora’s vehicle in the days after the killing, authorities reported.

If convicted, Gallegos faces a maximum prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole, prosecutors said.

Gallegos remains in custody without bail at the Merced County jail.

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