Third suspect indicted in Beverley Park homicide

Third suspect indicted in Beverley Park homicide

By Erich Wagner (File photo)

The third suspect accused in the death of a man found last November in Beverley Park in the North Ridge neighborhood was formally indicted Monday in connection with the crime.

Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter announced Tuesday that a grand jury handed down a two-count indictment against Reinaldo Mauricio Portillo Membrano, charging him with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. At 17 years old, Portillo Membrano is a juvenile, but Porter said he will be tried as an adult.

On November 9, 2015, Alexandria police found Jose Luis Ferman Perez dead in the park commonly referred to as “The Pit.” On January 13, police announced they had arrested three suspects in connection with the crime, and said the slaying was “gang-related,” meaning that it was allegedly committed by members of a gang, but not gang-motivated. That term refers to a crime committed “in the furtherance of gang activities.”

Although investigators have not clarified the nature of Ferman Perez’s death aside from describing his wounds as “upper body trauma,” officials with the Virginia medical examiner’s office said last December that he had suffered chop and stab wounds to his head and neck.

Porter said he could not provide additional information about Ferman Perez’s death or speak about any evidence, citing the pending legal cases, but in a statement he seemed to dispel speculation that the actual homicide occurred somewhere other than the well-loved park.

“On April 11, 2016, the Grand Jury for the City of Alexandria handed down a two-count indictment against Reinaldo Mauricio Portillo Membrano, alleging that Mr. Portillo Membrano murdered Jose Luis Ferman Perez in Beverley Park on or about November 8, 2015,” Porter wrote.

As Portillo Membrano awaits trial, the cases against two other suspects accused in Ferman Perez’s slaying continue to move forward. Alvaro Saenz Castro, 21, of Alexandria, was charged with first-degree murder, and Porter said he “has agreed to plead guilty” at a hearing on June 23. But Porter noted that circumstances could change between now and then.

And 17-year-old Leidi Granados Gutierrez, who was 16 at the time of the crime but also charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to one count of destroying physical evidence of a felony on February 11. She is scheduled for sentencing on April 28 and faces a maximum of five years in prison.

The news comes months after police announced arrests in this case and in that of Eduardo David Chandias Almendarez, who was found dead in Four Mile Run Park last December. Police charged Edwin Alexander Guerreo Umana, 18, of Arlington in connection with that crime.

Ferman Perez and Almendarez’s deaths sparked a discussion of gang activity in Alexandria. Although police said the two crimes were not connected, they confirmed that all suspects except Gutierrez were affiliated with the notorious MS-13 gang.

Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook said after the suspects’ arrests that gang activity is a problem across the D.C. region, and that while some gang members live in Alexandria, officers have strived to ensure gang-related crimes do not occur here.

“It’s a regional issue, and it’s a regional issue meaning the eastern seaboard, but certainly in our region, the [National Capitol Region],” Cook said at the time. “We have a tremendous problem right now with gang violence, and we’ve seen it increase tremendously, and now it has visited the city of Alexandria, which only says none of us are immune from it.”

Porter said a trial date has not yet been set for Portillo Membrano, but will be chosen by April 21.