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Defense of MS-13 member, charged with capital murder, gets money to interview family

Cristian Sanchez-Gomez was set to go on trial Tuesday, March 13 on capital murder, robbery, and gang participation charges (Blue Ridge Regional Jail)

BEDFORD Co., Va. (WSET) -- The trial against a one alleged MS-13 gang member, accused of being involved in the murder of a Lynchburg teenager, has been continued.

Cristian Sanchez-Gomez was set to go on trial Tuesday, March 13 on capital murder, robbery, and gang participation charges.

Sanchez-Gomez is one of four defendants charged with capital murder of Raymond Wood in March 2017.

Instead, Bedford County Commonwealth's Attorney Wes Nance said his case was continued to September 11, 2018.

Nance said Sanchez-Gomez's defense also received funding for part of the team to travel to El Salvador to interview Sanchez-Gomez's family members and investigate other leads.

"When you are trying to defend a person, certainly you need to talk to their family friends, and loved ones. If those individuals are outside the area, you are ethically required to talk to those individuals to learn more about the person you are representing," said Nance.

Wood's body was found on Roaring Run Road in Bedford County, and five members of MS-13, an international street gang known for brutality, have been charged.

An unsealed warrant revealed Sanchez-Gomez and two other defendants, Kevin Soto-Bonilla, and Lasandro Vasquez were brought to Lynchburg to murder Wood.

Jose Coreas-Ventura is also charged with capital murder, and Victor Rodas is charged with first degree murder.

A federal indictment indicates another member of MS-13, Michael Eduardo Contreras, 22, directed other gang members to come to Virginia from Maryland to murder Wood.

Capital murder cases allow for defendants to receive two attorneys and also mean they could face the death penalty.

Nance said it not unusual for a capital murder cases to take one or two years to go to trial.

Soto-Bonilla, Vasquez, and Rodas are set to be back in court in May; Vasquez and Rodas are both set to go on trial.

Coreas-Ventura is set to be in court again in July.

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