Suspect in recent murder not charged

District attorney cites lack of evidence is cause

By Victor A. Patton
vpatton@mercedsunstar.com
March 30, 2012 

A suspect wanted in the slaying of a 23-year-old Los Banos man was recently arrested, but his stay at the Merced County Jail was a short one.

Salvador Vega Rendon Jr., 19, was arrested March 21 on suspicion of killing Felipe Hernandez Bravo Jr. Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman, said Rendon turned himself in to his lawyer before being booked at the jail.

Before the arrest, Rendon had been profiled as one of Merced County's most wanted.

Despite the arrest, Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II acknowledged Monday there's not enough evidence to try Rendon in the case. As a result, Rendon was released from jail on Tuesday.

Morse didn't elaborate on the circumstances or details of the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

The victim's body was discovered by a state park lifeguard on New Year's Day inside the trunk of a car in Monterey County's Moss Landing area. The vehicle was abandoned with its windows open off Potrero Road, near a bridge over the Old Salinas River channel, not far from the beach, according to the Monterey County Herald.

Monterey County deputies recently turned the case over to the Merced County Sheriff's Department because detectives believe the homicide happened in Merced County and that the victim's body was taken to Monterey County.

Deputies haven't released new details about a possible motive for the slaying. The victim and Rendon had known each other for at least two months before the homicide, MacKenzie said.

Managing Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.

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