A 19-year-old former high school wrestler who allegedly murdered his close friend before boasting about the killing in an Snapchat post will face trial on charges of first-degree murder as prosecutors argue that the chokehold killing was premeditated.
Salvador Alejandro Sanchez of Escondido, California, is accused of killing his friend 20-year-old Maithem Alfuraiji during a “fight to the death” that appears to have been inspired by the Fast & Furious movie franchise.
According to Fox 5, a judge ruled on Tuesday at a preliminary hearing that Sanchez will face trial for the murder, which will carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison if he is convicted.
NBC San Diego reports that witnesses told police Sanchez had been deeply religious for most of his life, but one friend told the news station Sanchez had an abrupt turnabout about a month before the alleged murder, claiming that God had instructed him to make a list of people to kill.
Sanchez allegedly murdered Alfuraiji on April 27 following an alcohol-fueled argument at an Escondido park.
Investigators testified at the preliminary hearing that Sanchez had lured his friend there for what he intended to be a fight to the death, believed to have been inspired by the “fight of die” mantra from the Fast & Furious movies.
Sanchez reportedly later posted cryptic but incriminating messages and photos on Snapchat, as well as an audio recording believed to the victim crying.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Sanchez can be heard saying “tell them why you are crying” and “tell them what you did” while Alfuraiji can be heard crying. He also posted a photo of bloodied clothes.
Concerned friends who saw the Snapchat posts contacted police.
The suspect is believed to have enlisted a friend to remove Alfuraiji’s body from the crime scene and dump it among tall grass about 20 miles away.
Sanchez has pleaded not guilty to the murder.
Photo: Facebook/Maithem Alfuraiji