Judge won't dismiss murder charge for death on Seneca Nation

The William Seneca Administration Building on the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York. Photo from Seneca Construction Management Corporation

A federal magistrate refused to dismiss charges against four people who are accused of murdering a man on Seneca Nation of New York.

Francisco Santos was taken to the Cattaraugus Reservation in October 1998 and killed there. In 2011, federal authorities charged six people with his death -- one defendant pleaded guilty last May to the crime.

Four of the remaining defendants sought dismissal of the murder charged. They argued that key evidence was mishandled -- some items found at the crime scene on the reservation were accidentally sent to an auctioneer.

The judge, however, said the loss was not intentional. The value of the evidence was also in dispute.

All of the defendants are non-Indian and Santos was non-Indian as well. He was buried in a makeshift grave near an old lacrosse field on the reservation and his body was discovered in 1999 after some youth spotted a bone sticking out of the ground.

Get the Story:
Judge: Loss of murder evidence 'astonishing' (The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle 2/9)
Judge won’t dismiss murder charge because of lost evidence (AP 2/9)

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