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Murder suspect released from jail after two years when alibi emerges

October 7, 2009 |  7:37 am

A Santa Ana man was freed from custody this week at the request of Orange County prosecutors after spending two years in jail in connection with a charge that he killed another man.

Prosecutors would only say that "new evidence" emerged that raised doubts about the murder charge against Elias Joseph Sanchez. But defense attorneys say he was able to establish a solid alibi.

Had he been convicted, Sanchez could have been sentenced to life in prison.

More from the OC Register:

Deputy District Attorney Alison Gyves said she dismissed the charge against Elias Joseph Sanchez, of Santa Ana, in the Feb. 21, 2007, shooting death of Francisco Munoz, 19, because newly discovered evidence placed a conviction at trial in doubt. She declined to reveal the nature of the new evidence, adding that the case remains under investigation and charges against Sanchez could be refiled. Defense attorney Sal Ciulla said the prosecution dropped the charge after he presented alibi evidence showing that Sanchez was with his grandmother at the same time Munoz was gunned down on a Santa Ana street. Ciulla also said a relative of his client took a polygraph test administered by Santa Ana police detectives that verified the alibi. Sanchez and co-defendant Salvador Nunez, 17, were arrested in July 2007 after a witness said they were involved in the Munoz slaying, Gyves said.

-- Shelby Grad

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