Davie police: Man’s life was worth $200 to girlfriend, hitman

(MIAMI HERALD)  Tired of life with her cabinet-maker boyfriend of three years, Sibia Martinez wanted him gone, Davie police say.

She was even willing to pay for it — $200.

Nearly six months after 29-year-old Jose Manuel Matute-Hernandez was found dead in his Davie apartment with two bullets in his brain, investigators arrested Martinez, saying the 21-year-old had her boyfriend killed by a bargain-rate hitman.

Police also on Thursday arrested Cesar Banegas, 24, and accused him of brokering the hit with his roommate, 22-year-old Jose Suarez, who police say shot Matute-Hernandez dead while he sat on his living room couch.

ACQUAINTANCES

According to the trio’s arrest affidavits, the plot to kill Matute-Hernandez began in late February or early March, several months after Martinez ran into Banegas, whom she hadn’t seen since middle school.

Here is what Banegas told investigators, according to police affidavits filed by Detective Jeffrey Corns:

Martinez said she would pay to have her boyfriend killed, but Banegas said he would not take the job and did not know anybody who would.

BEERS AND CARDS

Less than 24 hours later, over a game of cards and a few beers, Banegas mentioned the offer to Suarez, who said “Tell her I’ll do it.”

Suarez wanted his identity kept a secret, so Banegas became the middle man, brokering a deal that would bring Suarez $100 up front and another $100 after he killed Matute-Hernandez.

Then on March 5, Martinez left a key to the couple’s River Cove apartment at an unnamed park on Riverland Road. Banegas drove Suarez to pick up the key and then dropped him off at the complex.

Suarez looked for the apartment with a red angel hanging on the door, walked inside and fired two bullets into Matute-Hernandez’s head.

Banegas picked up Suarez and they drove to their home on Stirling Road and Northwest 78th Avenue.

At 10:24 p.m., Martinez called 911 and said she’d just returned home from a trip to Wal-Mart with her mother and had found Matute-Hernandez dead.

CELLPHONE RECORDS

Davie police initially said the investigation was hindered because many neighbors in the area are undocumented immigrants and were afraid to speak with police.

But the arrest affidavits show that within days, investigators began to poke holes in Martinez’s story, using primarily cellphone records.

Police learned that Martinez had placed about a dozen calls to Banegas the day of the murder, and after speaking with him they realized he lied to them about where he lived.

When they learned he lived with Suarez, police spoke with the roommate and he told them he had once owned a High Point .380-caliber handgun — the same type of gun used to kill Matute-Hernandez.

A resident of the River Cove Apartments also identified Suarez out of a picture lineup as a man who approached him the night of the shooting outside his apartment and asked to use a telephone.

Police never found the gun — Banegas said his roommate threw it into the ocean off the Dania Beach Fishing Pier — but they found a holster in the apartment.

The case, police spokesman Sgt. Greg Gasse said, was mostly circumstantial until Aug. 19, when Banegas flipped on Suarez and Martinez.

All three have been charged with premeditated murder and are being held in Broward County jails without bond. An immigration hold has also been placed on Martinez, who is a native of Honduras.

It isn’t clear if Suarez received his last $100 payment.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/southflorida/story/1208930.html

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