New Bedford Suspect in Dartmouth Gun Murder Held Without Bail
A New Bedford man has pleaded not guilty to a single murder charge in the death of 27-year-old Jose Cortez Cornejo, whose body was found along Horseneck Road in Dartmouth around 5:10 a.m. on July 14.
Franklin Antonio Amaya Paredes, 23, was ordered held without bail by a New Bedford District Court judge Monday. The Bristol County District Attorney’s office announced Saturday that Paredes had been arrested in connection with the death, and that Cornejo had died of gunshot wounds.
During Monday's arraignment, ADA Natasha Acevedo said Cornejo was shot four times and that four 9 mm shell casings were found near his body. He was found clutching a car key that matched up with a Honda Accord police later found in the Boost Mobile parking lot off Cove Road in New Bedford. Acevedo said neighbors near 180 Horseneck Road heard gunshots between 11 and 11:30 p.m. and the sound of a vehicle leaving the scene. She argued that cellphone evidence linked Paredes to the crime scene, and said the two men had met up the night before in the Boost Mobile parking lot before taking off together in a Honda Pilot registered to Paredes' girlfriend. She pointed to Facebook messages sent to Cornejo from Paredes' account and said Paredes had a known problem with Cornejo, according to the Standard-Times.
Defense attorney Dana Sargent argued there was no evidence to support the assertion that Paredes was at the crime scene and no evidence that his client owned a gun. He countered that the alleged cell phone evidence came from Paredes’ girlfriend, not Paredes. Sargent described his client as a hard worker who installs sheetrock for a living to pay child support for his 7-month-old son. He said other than an allegation that he may have entered the country illegally, Paredes has no history of crime. Sargent said the case should be dismissed for lack of probable cause, and recommended bail of between $10,000 and $15,000.
Judge Douglas J. Darnbrough ordered Paredes held without bail and scheduled a probable cause hearing for Aug. 25. Bristol County murder cases are tried in Fall River Superior Court, so it's expected that prosecutors will convene a grand jury to seek an indictment.