When Samantha Guevara holds the framed picture of her son, 27-year-old Angel Faz, the reflected image from the mother’s stoic expression appears in painful conflict with the uplifting smile which resonates heartily throughout the family’s visual tribute.
On the same day she buried Angel, Guevara was informed the suspect Bradley Paul Santoyo, 26, of Mabton, who was in jail and being held on a $1 million bond had been released after Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic announced on Jan. 13, there was not enough evidence to convict, she described.
“Once we arrived at the hall where we were having the celebration of life, everybody is talking about it and so I called the police department and asked if he (Santoyo) was released and sure enough, they told me yes,” a disheartened Guevara explained during an interview on Thursday, Jan 28.
As she heard the words, ‘there was not enough evidence to keep him,’ the mother’s wide range of unsettled emotions transformed into anger.
“I don’t understand it all… I’m like really furious. I want answers and nobody is answering anything for me. I have so much anger. I just need the answers of why. If he’s (Santoyo) admitting he was there or he’s blaming this other person (Javier Alvarran), why aren’t either one of them in jail,” Guevara said.
Faz was murdered outside his girlfriend’s mobile home around 1:49 a.m. at Eakin’s Trailer Court, 2330 Yakima Valley Highway, on Jan. 7.
They share a two-year old daughter. Faz, a father of five, had once been a gang member but had removed himself from the gang five years ago, his mother said. “No other gang knew him as a gang member anymore. They knew he had fallen out as being a gang member.”
The Yakima County Superior Court found probable cause for murder on Monday, Jan. 11, at Santoyo’s preliminary hearing before Judge Kevin S. Naught.
After reviewing the evidence submitted, Brusic and his colleagues concluded the evidence available presently was insufficient to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect committed or was complicit in the victim’s murder,” according to a statement from the county prosecutor
Due to the lack of evidence for the time being, the State has declined to file charges and Santoyo was released.
Brusic added he looks “forward to additional information that we can use to file in the very near future.”
Sunnyside Police Department is still investigating the case.
“Without more evidence, especially identification of the shooter or accomplice liability in some form, we cannot make a case that would have a reasonable chance of getting to a jury for their deliberation,” Brusic said in a letter sent to the Sunnyside Police Department.
Brusic said charges could be filed in the future if additional evidence was found to support the first-degree murder charge.
“I’ve received a bunch of messages after he passed. I knew my son had a big heart and a really good soul,” Guevara softly proclaimed. “I received one from a friend of his and she said he knew we were struggling and would come over to check on us every day. Our lights were getting turned off and so he ended up paying the bill for us.”
She immediately added, “I knew he was good at heart, but to receive messages from his many friends like this one, just made me so much more proud of him.”