Jury Reaches Verdict in 1989 Homicide Case

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10/06/11

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Lt. Craig Carter, 760-839-4487

On Thursday, October 06, 2011, jurors in the 21-year-old murder case convicted Vicente Flores-Benites, 49, of Voluntary Manslaughter and Personal use of a Firearm.

 This arrest and extradition from Mexico resulted from a four year long fugitive investigation conducted by Escondido Police Cold Case Detectives Chuck Gaylor and Norm Wight.  Also participating in this investigation were the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of International Affairs inWashingtonDC, the Extraditions Office of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Flores-Benites, now 49 years of age, was 28 at the time of the 1989 murder.  He is accused of shooting and killing Mr. Margarito Navarette, while both attended a party at a residence in the 700 block ofEast Pennsylvania AvenueinEscondido,CA.   Witnesses who were interviewed in 1989 said Margarito Navarette, who was unarmed, was shot at point blank range five times while seated on a sofa.   There were several dozen witnesses present at the 1989 homicide as they attended a combination birthday party and Quincenera rehearsal dinner. Although many people were present at this party, including young children, only one other person was slightly injured during this assault. After the shooting, Vincente Flores-Benites fled toMexicoto avoid prosecution.

Cold case detectives reviewed this case and then began locating witnesses and conducting searches of various databases in an attempt to locate Flores-Benites.   As in other fugitive cases, a warrant had been issued after the crime occurred, but Flores-Benites whereabouts were unknown. 

During the investigation, cold case detectives interviewed numerous witnesses in an attempt to locate Flores-Benites.   Ultimately, Commander Martin Silva of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office was able to locate an address for the wanted fugitive inTijuana,Mexico.  This information was the catalyst for the extradition proceedings.

After a possible address was found for Mr. Flores-Benites inTijuana, assistance was requested from the Extradition Unit of the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.  Deputy District Attorney Jane Via coordinated the filing of all appropriate legal documents between Escondido Police cold case detectives and the United States Office of International Affairs in Washington D. C.   

Thereafter, Escondido cold case detectives requested assistance of the San Diego FBI in utilizing their contacts with Mexican authorities to apprehend the suspect on a provisional arrest warrant. On May 24, 2010 Mr. Flores-Benites was arrested in aTijuanasuburb and placed in custody of Mexican authorities.  He was flown toMexico Cityby Mexican authorities where he was afforded the proper court hearings. The Mexican court subsequently ordered Flores-Benites extradited to theUnited States.

Vicente Flores-Benites is the first Mexican National extradited from Mexico by the Escondido Police Department.   He is the eighth person to be extradited out ofMexicoby the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

The return of Vicente Flores-Benites was made possible through the FBI's Project Welcome Home (PWH).  Normally, extraditions can take months or years to be completed.  However, when a nation decides to expel or deport a fugitive, Project Welcome Home enables the FBI to quickly respond and expedite the repatriation of the fugitive.  Project Welcome Home funds the round trip travel of two law enforcement officials and a one-way trip for the fugitive from a foreign country to theUnited States.

 Since its inception in 2004, over 400 FBI fugitives have been returned to theUnited States from more than 42 countries to face prosecution.

This is the link to Project Welcome Home:

 http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/ten-most-wanted-fugitives-60th-anniversary-1950-2010/project_welcome_home/?searchterm=project

           

Escondido Police Department would like to express our thanks to the members of our immigrant community who came forward as witnesses. Their testimony was instrumental in the successful prosecution of Flores-Benites.

 

 

Outline of Events

  • On Saturday, May 20, 1989, at approximately 7:10 p.m. the Escondido Police Department (EPD) responded to a fatal shooting in the 700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, Escondido, California.
  • On May 25, 1989, EPD sought and obtained an arrest warrant against Vicente Flores-Benites, charging him with one count of murder in violation of California Penal Code 187.
  • On September 8, 2009, a federal complaint was filed in the Southern District of California, San Diego, California, charging Vicente Flores-Benites with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, specifically murder. 
  • On May 24, 2010, Vicente Flores-Benites was arrested in Tijuana, Mexico by the PGR- (commander of the Mexican attorney general's prosecution force) fugitive apprehension team pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant.
  • FBI's Project Welcome Home (PWH) worked to expedite the repatriation of Vicente Flores-Benites
  • On October 14, 2010, Vicente Flores-Benites arrived at LAX in the custody of FBI Agents from FBI’s Legal Attaché Office in Mexico City.
  • On October 6, 2011, Vicente Flores-Benites was convicted of Voluntary Manslaughter and Personal use of a Firearm.

To report any suspicious activities in your neighborhood, you may contact the Police Department directly, or you may make an unidentified call on our Anonymous Tip Line at 760-743-TIPS (8477) or via our Web site at police.escondido.org.  For breaking news releases, please follow the Escondido Police Department on Twitter at Escondido_PD.