Suspected murderer turns himself in

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By Jennifer Garcia

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A man suspected of fatally shooting a pregnant teenager and her father in a Santa Fe apartment surrendered to police in Los Alamos Saturday night.

Santa Fe Deputy Police Chief Aric Wheeler says 22-year-old Marino K. Leyba Jr. of Santa Fe turned himself in Saturday after police said he was wanted for the shootings of 17-year-old Sarah Marie Lovato and 50-year-old Benny Ray Lovato Sr.

Leyba and his attorney Yvonne K. Quintana arrived at the Los Alamos Police Department shortly after 8 p.m. so Leyba could turn himself in.

After turning himself in, Quintana gave a brief statement. “I have arranged to turn my client in to Los Alamos law enforcement. Mr. Leyba has turned himself in voluntarily. I had dire concerns for Mr. Leyba’s safety and I felt that it would be best to turn himself in to Los Alamos police without incident. Turning himself in voluntarily doesn’t mean he’s guilty. I ask that everyone remember he’s innocent until proven guilty,” Quintana said.

Police began looking for Leyba on Friday night after the slayings and after turning up nothing, went to Leyba’s residence on Saturday to search for him. In addition, a home in Alcalde belonging to one of Leyba’s relatives was also searched Saturday night.

After surrendering to police in Los Alamos, Leyba was transported to the Santa Fe County Jail, despite his attorney’s concerns for his safety.

Wheeler says Leyba is under arrest on three open counts of murder. The third open count is for Lovato’s fetus. She was 32 weeks’ pregnant. Leyba is being held in Santa Fe County Jail on $5,000,000 bond. He was expected to appear in court today.

Wheeler says Lovato and Leyba had a relationship. He would not say what motivated the shootings.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.