'Flawed' police work prompts Oklahoma County DA to drop charges in Carina Saunders slaying
Unsubstantiated accounts of Carina Saunders' slaying led prosecutors to dismiss case against Jimmy Lee Massey Jr. and Luis E. Ruiz. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is now handling the case.
Prosecutors dismissed murder charges against two men because Bethany police investigators submitted unsubstantiated paperwork in their rush to make an arrest in the dismemberment killing of a 19-year-old Mustang woman, The Oklahoman has learned.
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Probable cause affidavits used to arrest and charge Jimmy Lee Massey Jr. and Luis Enrique Ruiz with the killing of Carina Saunders contained conflicting witness statements that did not support evidence in the case, according to multiple sources close to the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Their information wasn't corroborated,” a source said. “They are trying to make it sound like they have enough probable cause to arrest (them).”
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater dismissed the case against both men Feb. 22 because of insufficient evidence.
Charges can be refiled after further investigation, according to a judge's order.
Prater and Bethany police officials declined to comment.
Ruiz, 38, has been released from jail; Massey, 34, remains incarcerated on a drug charge. Their attorneys declined to comment.
Bethany police are no longer investigating the homicide. The case has been turned over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
“It was not a professional and unbiased investigation,” said Oklahoma City defense attorney Scott Adams, who represented a woman once thought to have a video of the killing and dismemberment. “That's why we're sitting here with the charges being dismissed.”
Adams' former client agreed to meet with Bethany police in July but never showed up because she “was scared to come forward.”
“She certainly said she saw a video,” Adams said this week. “But the problem with that is I never saw any proof of that and neither did police.”
To date, no video of the killing has surfaced.
Saunders was reported missing Sept. 28, 2011. Her body parts were found in a duffel bag behind a Homeland Store on NW 23 and Rockwell in Bethany on Oct. 13, 2011.
Bethany detectives interviewed dozens of witnesses and followed hundreds of leads over the next 15 months, court documents show.
Adams said the investigation was flawed from the start and produced conflicting affidavits based on the statements of less-than-credible witnesses.
“I think they took some people who are suspect at best at their word, and they rushed to judgment,” Adams said.
Bethany police Chief Phil Cole said Friday he is not going to make any statements about his department's investigation of the slaying.
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