Trail of cold case murder leads to Ontario prison cell

A four-year-old cold case shooting death in Washington may heat up after police obtained DNA from Clement Garcia Cerda, 22, Walla Walla in early December. Cerda is an inmate at Snake River Correctional Facility. (The Enterprise/File).

ONTARIO – A cold case shooting death in Washington state led to a prison cell at Snake River Correctional Institution last week.

Oregon State Police Det. Ryan Mills gathered four DNA samples from inmate Clement Garcia Cerda, 22, of Walla Walla, Wash., on Dec. 14 in an effort to solve the shooting death of Salvador Urincho four years ago.

Police will compare Cerda’s DNA with DNA found at the scene of Urincho’s shooting.

It’s the latest twist in a case that began on a porch of a house in Walla Walla in the early morning hours of Dec. 5, 2014. According to a search warrant affidavit filed in Malheur County Circuit Court,

Urincho, 25, was at a friend’s house about 3 a.m. when someone knocked on the door. Urincho opened the door and an argument erupted.

“There was a struggle at the door between Salvador and the two people outside. Salvador pushed the door closed,” said the affidavit.

Moments later 9-millimeter rounds tore through the door and hit Urincho. He died a short time later. The effort to identify his attackers stretched over four years.

Walla Walla police suspect Cerda and another man, Charley Lozano-Magana, 24, were Urincho’s attackers, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Magana and Cerda killed Urincho because he owed them money for drugs.

Police were able to lift DNA samples off of the door of the house after the crime but not enough to identify the source of the DNA.

“New testing methods have been developed and there was a DNA profile that was developed that has not been attributed to other DNA samples tested to date,” the affidavit said.

Police viewed Lozano-Magana as a person of interest because the 9-millimeter shell casings found at the scene were linked to a shooting in Milton-Freewater in June 2014. The prime suspect in the Milton-Freewater case was Magana.

Police received two breaks that helped them on the case. About 10 months after Urincho’s death, an informant told police that Cerda told him that he and Magana shot through the door.

The big break came two months ago when another witness told police that both Cerda and Magana said they killed Urincho. That witness said the two men intended only to beat up the victim, according to the affidavit. But when Urincho threatened to call police, and then slammed the door, he was shot.

Magana was later charged him with three counts of attempted murder, four counts of unlawful use of a weapon and a series of charges of reckless endangering another. Those charges came from a drive-by shooting incident in Milton-Freewater last summer. Now Magana is in the Umatilla County Jail awaiting trial.

Cerda, 22, is serving a six-year term for unlawful use of a weapon and felon in possession of a firearm. The charges stem from a shooting in Milton-Freewater in May 2017. Cerda has been at the Ontario prison since February.