DNA & ballistics link suspect to Christmas Eve triple murder - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

DNA & ballistics link suspect to Christmas Eve triple murder

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - New details are revealed in a shocking triple murder case that left two people dead outside Mission Valley mall and another man's body in the trunk of a car.

Carlo Mercado is accused of gunning down brothers Salvatore and Gianni Belvedere and Gianni's fiancee Ilona Flint. He looked somber Tuesday, walking into court in shackles.

During that session, the court played the 911 call from one of the murder victims, Ilona Flint after she was shot:

Operator: 911 Emergency. What are you reporting?

Ilona Flint: (inaudible) Ow, Ow! I think i've been shot!

Operator: Where are you?

Ilona Flint: At the Mission Valley Westgate Mall.

Operator: Misson Valley Mall? Hello? Hello? Hello?

Prosecutors say Mercado shot Flint and Salvatore Belvedere while standing at the driver's side door in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve 2013. Shots were not heard during the 911 call because prosecutors say Mercado used a homemade silencer.

Mercado, 29, could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted at trial. The district attorney will decide whether to seek the death penalty after the preliminary hearing.

A San Diego Police homicide detective says two surveillance cameras show Flint leaving the Cathy Jean Shoes, where she worked. She locked up the store with a co-worker at 12:22 a.m.

Court records show that co-worker and her boyfriend saw Ilona talking to a man later identified as the suspect. He asked the location of a nearby restaurant and then followed about 20 feet behind. Police say surveillance video shows this interaction.

At 1:14 a.m., Flint called 911 from the parking lot near Macy's.

Two witnesses who worked at Macy's also called police. They saw a man walk away who they say got into a car and went westbound. They later identified that man as Flint's fiancé, Gianni.

The homicide detective says Flint's cell phone was found in the car along with a bag of cocaine with a drug dealer's DNA on it.

Salvatore's cell phone and car keys have never been recovered. Four shots were fired into the car from the driver's side door. Salvatore was shot in the head and Ilona was hit in the shoulder and back of the head.

Detectives say cell phone records place Gianni at the Mission Valley Mall around 11:30 p.m. December 23. Around 11:35 p.m. he received a call that interrupted his call with an uncle. Gianni was never heard from again.

Cell phone records show Ilona called Gianni 15 times that day tried calling that night. When she couldn't get a hold of him she called hospitals and jails looking for him.

On January 17, police found the body of Gianni, in the trunk of his missing car in a Riverside parking lot.

One day after Gianni's body was found, Mercado was stopped at the San Onofre checkpoint. Officers confiscated two handguns, an assault rifle and a silencer and ammunition. According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by CBS News 8 and court testimony, ballistics tests show the .22 caliber gun found in Mercado's vehicle is the same gun used to shoot Ilona, Salvatore and Gianni.

Detectives also testified DNA found on a Febreze can used to conceal the odor from Gianni's dead body matched Mercado. Also duct tape used over the nozzle to empty the bottle on its own and the gas cap on Gianni's car matched Mercado's DNA.

The search warrant at Mercado's sister's Mira Mesa home, where Mercado lived, shows police seized black duct tape, tan pants and a sweatshirt with white stripes on the sleeves. The clothing is a similar description of what the suspected shooter wore the night of the murders. 

The medical examiner says they found opiates and Xanax in Gianni's system and heroin in Ilona's system. No drugs were found in Salavator's body. Detectives say he was recovering from heroin use.

Mercado's public defender is building a case that the victims had a dangerous drug-filled lifestyle and that Mercado wasn't at the scene. During cross examination, the attorney insinuated Gianni may have killed himself before being placed in the trunk of his vehicle. The defendant has pleaded not guilty.

The preliminary hearing will continue Wednesday during which a computer forensic expert is expected to testify. 


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