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County releases juvenile murder suspects

All four juveniles allegedly involved in the May 1 shooting death of George P. Salinas III saw their charges dropped yesterday by the Yakima County prosecutor's office.

That includes the accused shooter, 15-year-old Bernardo Trevino, initially charged with gunning down Salinas in the middle of an Outlook road.

Charges were also dropped against Lorena Leon, Saul Alvarez and Raul Alvarez, all 15, who were accused of participating in the murder.

According to court records, Trevino, Leon and Saul Alvarez were in custody at the Yakima County juvenile detention facility and have been released. An arrest warrant issued against Raul Alvarez has been dropped.

Though the final action was taken yesterday in dropping the charges against Trevino, court records show that dismissal orders against the other three juveniles date back as early as June 13.

Mark Kirschenmann is a senior program coordinator with juvenile detention, and confirmed this morning that the three murder suspects had been released.

"It's a prosecutorial decision," not ours," Kirschenmann said. "But I'm sure it was well thought out."

Sidney Dolquist is the deputy prosecuting attorney for the juvenile court, and said the cases were dismissed because there was insufficient evidence.

"They were booked in with probable cause to hold and charge them and the subsequent investigation was insufficient to take any of these kids to trial," she said. "It didn't develop well."

All four cases were dismissed without prejudice, Dolquist added, meaning that any of the youths could face charges again if new evidence develops.

Dolquist said part of the problem with the cases was lack of physical evidence, as well as difficulties with witness testimony. She declined to say whether any of the witness testimony conflicted.

"There were a number of elements that just did not develop to take the case to trial," Dolquist said. "There were a number of witnesses to the incident, a number of statements, a number of different reports."

An adult arrested in the Salinas killing, 19-year-old Rafael Mendoza, is still in custody according to county records.

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