A Hawaii man who was believed to have been traveling with a 15-year-old girl and her mother following a killing in Carson is set to be arraigned Tuesday on murder and other charges.
Roman Cerratos — who was detained last Thursday in Mexico and turned over to U.S. authorities — was charged Monday with one count each of murder, kidnapping and possession of a firearm by a felon in connection with the April 16 death of Jeffrey Appel, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The charges — which carry a potential life prison sentence — include allegations that the 39-year-old resident of Mopua, Hawaii, personally used a handgun and a knife during the commission of the crime.
A $10,000 reward has been posted for information leading to the safe recovery of the 15-year-old girl, whose mother is also a suspect in Appel’s killing.
Investigators said Alora Benitez was last seen April 17 in Torrance with her 40-year-old mother, Maricela Mercado, and Cerratos.
Detectives said they were concerned for the teen’s safety because of the “extreme violence” used to kill the 32-year-old man, whose body was found around 6:30 a.m. April 16 in his Audi parked in the 400 block of East Carson Plaza Drive. He had been shot multiple times in the neck and upper body, according to coroner’s records.
After an Amber Alert was issued for the teen, a white BMW sedan used by the suspects was recovered in San Diego, in the area of San Ysidro, a major border crossing.
Mercado shares custody of her daughter with the girl’s father, whom authorities said had no involvement in the homicide.
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