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Diaz Evans trial starts, accomplice sentenced

WILLMAR -- Jury selection began this morning in the trial of Leroy Diaz Evans, the 26-year-old Willmar man accused of firing shots at a Willmar police officer.

The trial, before District Judge Kathryn N. Smith in Kandiyohi County District Court, is scheduled through March 17.

Evans faces nine felony charges for his role to the Sept. 15 incident. The charges include seven first-degree burglary and aggravated robbery counts, plus a charge of first-degree attempted murder of a peace officer, which is punishable by up to life in prison, and a charge of use of deadly force against a peace officer or correctional employee. The burglary and robbery charges are for two alleged home invasions prior to the shooting incident.

Arcadio Salinas Jr., 23, of Willmar, was sentenced this morning to 34 months in prison and a $1,000 fine on a felony charge of aiding and abetting first-degree attempted robbery for his role in the incident. He was also ordered to pay $3,516.40 in restitution, jointly with Evans and Jesus Trevino, 33, of Willmar.

Evans' trial had been delayed since Feb. 11 because Salinas had told attorneys that he would claim his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination if he were called as a defense witness before his sentencing.

Neil Tangen, Salinas' attorney said this morning that his client would continue to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege and asked that Salinas be released from the county jail into the custody of the Department of Corrections. However, Judge Michael J. Thompson ordered that Salinas be held at the county jail until he has testified or has been released from testifying in the Evans trial.

Salinas had entered an Alford plea to the charge. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit his guilt, but agrees there is enough evidence against him for a conviction. He was not granted immunity by the prosecution.

Trevino, the other defendant in the case, pleaded guilty Feb. 4 to first-degree burglary. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to testify against Diaz Evans. Trevino will be sentenced March 28.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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