Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 21, 2003

Sanchez-Diaz found guilty of murder

By Ryan Gueningsman

A jury delivered a guilty verdict in the murder trial of Sergio Sanchez-Diaz Monday last Monday after four-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

Sanchez-Diaz, 24, was originally charged for the death of Laura Vasquez-Ruelas and her unborn child following an incident Dec. 29, 2001 at their Lester Prairie mobile home.

He was convicted of one count of first degree murder which bears a mandatory life-sentence, said McLeod County Attorney Mike Junge. He will not be eligible for parole for at least 30 years, and possibly as much as 46 and-a-half years.

"That will depend what the judge decides to do with regards to the death of the unborn child," Junge said. "It could be a concurrent sentence, or a consecutive sentence."

He was also convicted of two counts of second degree murder ­ one for each Vasquez-Ruelas and one for the unborn child.

Judge Terrance Conkel set a sentencing hearing June 13 at 9 a.m. and Sanchez-Diaz to be held without bail, said Junge. There will be a pre-sentence investigation conducted.

"I'm not sure where he is at right now," Junge said. "He is still in custody of the sheriff, but he may be in a different county."

Sanchez-Diaz's attorney Fran Eggert of Winsted declined to comment about the trial.

"We're all pretty happy that it is over," said McLeod County Sheriff Wayne Vinkemeier. "I'm glad its come to a conclusion and hopefully the family can somewhat move on."

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