California man accused of kidnapping, killing and attempting to kill an 8-month-old girl, her parents, and her uncle has pleaded not guilty on four counts each of first-degree murder.
Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, pleaded not guilty to all charges filed against him, which include arson and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Special circumstances apply to the murder charges, which claim that the murders were committed during kidnapping.
Salgado could receive the death penalty for violating this special circumstance designation.
He is accused of abducting and killing baby Aroohi Dheri, her mother, 27-year-old Jasleen Kaur, her father, 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh, and her 39-year-old uncle, Amandeep Singh. Authorities said that all three were taken at gunpoint from the trucking company of the family in the central California town of Merced.
Salgado claimed he was owed back wages because he had worked for the business as an employee.
The victims’ bodies were discovered two days after their kidnapping in a remote almond orchard by a farmworker who happened upon the disturbing sight, according to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, who has asked for the death penalty.
“There are no words to describe the anger I feel,”Warnke spoke at a press conference last Wednesday after the bodies were discovered. “There’s a special place in hell for this guy.”
Salgado is a convicted felon who served eight years in prison after being convicted of attempted false imprisonment, first-degree robbery and possession of a controlled substance, authorities said. According to state records, he was released in 2015 after serving three years probation.
According to authorities, the circumstances of that crime are very similar to the one in which Salgado was convicted. In the earlier incident, Salgado was convicted of home invasion robbery of a family, which also operated a trucking business, holding them at gunpoint and robbing them of cash and jewelry, according to officials. Authorities said that Salgado was a former employee of the business.
Late last week, Salgado’s brother, Albert, was arrested on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, accessory and destroying evidence. According to T, the brother was not charged.He Associated Press.