MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two more people have been charged in the brutal beating death of a Twin Cities man earlier this year.
Arturo Morales-Ceras, 34, and Tomasa Leshae Martinez, 30, are both charged in connection to the death of 39-year-old Manuel Mandujano, of Minneapolis, whose body was found in late April in a south metro farming ditch. According to investigators, Mandujano was severely beaten inside a Minneapolis home weeks before his body was found.
Documents filed in Hennepin County show Morales-Ceras is charged with second-degree intentional murder while Martinez is charged with kidnapping. Both were arrested last week and remain in custody. Investigators say Martinez was Mandujano’s girlfriend.
A third person, 40-year-old Ivan Contreras-Sanchez, is also charged with second-degree intentional murder in Mandujano’s death.
According to criminal complaints, Morales-Ceras told investigators after being arrested that he and Contreras-Sanchez made Mandujano leave a south Minneapolis homeless encampment in late March at gunpoint. They drove him to a Minneapolis home where several people beat Mandujano at the direction of Contreras-Sanchez.
Morales-Ceras told investigators that he pounded a nail into the bone of Mandujano’s heel. After, he reported that he intimated Mandujano with a hammer while he and Contreras-Sanchez interrogated him about being a police informant. Videos of the beating obtained by police appear to show Morales-Ceras waiving a hammer in front of Mandujano and wrapping his arm around the victim’s head.
In another video, Martinez can be seen looking at her cell phone as Mandujano is beaten. Investigators say she never appears to make any effort to intervene or call for help.
Mandujano was still alive when he was wrapped in plastic and placed in the back of a car. With Martinez driving and Morales-Ceras and Contreras-Sanchez riding passenger, the three began looking for a place to leave Mandujano. At some point during the drive, Mandujano died, the complaint states.
The three met up with two other people and together searched for water to dump the body, Morales-Ceras told investigators. They eventually settled on a farming ditch about 30 miles south of Minneapolis. That’s where police found a device linked to Contreras-Sanchez’s email account, which eventually led to his arrest.
If convicted of the second-degree murder charge, Morales-Ceras faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. For the kidnapping charge, Martinez also faces decades behind bars.
Both Morales-Ceras and Martinez are expected to appear in court Tuesday.
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