SALINAS, Calif. (KION)- UPDATE ON FEB. 22, 2024 AT 4:30 PM- The Monterey County District Attorney's Office said that 51-year-old Jimmy Torres Rodriguez has been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for the murder of Eliaz Diaz.
In December 2023, a jury convicted Rodriguez of first-degree murder and confirmed a special allegation that Rodriguez personally and intentionally discharged a firearm resulting in the Diaz's death.
Investigators said that the shooting took place in Nov. 1999 at Country Motors Auto Dealership on the 400 block of East Alisal Street.
Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine M Pacioni said that Rodriguez pretended to be a customer who was interested in purchasing a vehicle. Rodriguez shot and killed Diaz at the dealership he owned.
Diaz was 39 years old when he died and was survived by his seven children.
Investigators said that Rodriguez fled the scene and abandoned the gun and clothing he was wearing in a trash can a few blocks away.
Monterey County District Attorney's Office said that DNA testing on clothing items along with witness testimony linked Rodriguez to the murder.
Visalia man convicted of first-degree murder in 1999 Salinas shooting
UPDATE ON DEC. 20, 2023 AT 10:07 AM- Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni said that a 51-year-old Visalia man was convicted of first-degree murder of Eliaz Diaz on Monday morning.
Pacioni said that the jury also found that Jimmy Torres Rodriguez personally and intentionally discharged a firearm resulting in death.
Salinas Police said the incident took place on Nov. 19, 1999 at Country Motors Auto Dealership on the 400 block of East Alisal Street.
Police said that the 39-year-old Diaz was the owner of the auto dealership when he was shot and killed by a person pretending to be a customer interested in purchasing a vehicle.
Investigators said that the shooter fled the scene and left the gun and distinctive clothing in a trash can just a few blocks away.
The Monterey County District Attorney's Office said that DNA testing on the clothing items along with witness testimony linked Rodriguez to the murder. Rodriguez was 27 years old at the time of the shooting.
Pacioni said that Rodriguez will be sentenced on January 25. He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison. His sentencing will take place at 8:45 a.m.
Suspect arrested in connection to 1999 Salinas murder
Salinas police said they have made an arrest in connection to a 1999 cold case homicide in the city.
On Nov. 19, 1999, police said the owner of Country Motors Auto Dealership, 39-year-old Elias Gutierrez Diaz, was shot and killed in front of the business on E. Alisal Street.
On Wednesday, police arrested 50-year-old Jimmy Torres Rodriguez at his home in Tulare for the murder. He was transported to Monterey County and booked into the Monterey County Jail. He appeared in court for arraignment Thursday, and he entered a not guilty plea. His next court date is set for Aug. 3.
A spokesperson for Salinas police said DNA played a role in the arrest along with other leads they followed over the course of more than 20 years. Some of the evidence that helped lead to the arrest came from seemingly unimportant information provided by the public that later turned into a lead, Officer Cabrera said. He said the arrest was a "long time coming."
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Det. Ruben Sanchez at 831-758-7927. To remain anonymous, call the tip line at 831-775-4222.