Murder motives explained at hearing
A Kansas City, Kan., man killed a De Soto woman on Sept. 4 because he feared for his life and the life of his mother, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing Monday in Johnson County District Court.
Alfredo Arambula told his mother, a sheriff's detective and a girlfriend that he shot Melanie S. Oliver, 41, while she slept at her apartment in the 8100 block of Center Drive in De Soto.
He committed the killing because longtime De Soto resident Juan Crutchfield threatened to kill him and his mother if he didn't go through with the slaying, the witnesses said during a preliminary hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to have Arambula stand trial for first-degree murder.
Crutchfield, also known as Juan Guardado, allegedly wanted to stop Oliver from testifying against him in a domestic violence case and solicited Arambula's help to kill her.
According to testimony, Arambula, 18, told his mother, Maria Merno, and his girlfriend, Diana Ahumada, he shot Oliver.
He made this confession to them on the telephone after he was arrested and in the Johnson County Jail. He also gave an account of the killing to Johnson County Sheriff's Detective Scott Atwell during an interview.
Arambula said Crutchfield was angry that Oliver and his wife, Tanika Crutchfield, did not bail him out of the Douglas County Jail when he was arrested on unrelated criminal charges.
The women reportedly drove Crutchfield's car, against his wishes, while he was in jail, Tanika testified.
Crutchfield allegedly attacked both women after he was released from jail on Aug. 18.
He was charged with kidnapping, aggravated battery and domestic violence for the attack. Crutchfield allegedly also wanted Arambula to kill Tanika, the witnesses said.
However, Arambula refused to kill Tanika because she was the mother of Juan's children, Ahumada testified.
According to testimony, Jesse Guardado, 18, of Edwardsville allegedly drove Arambula and Crutchfield to a couple of stores the night of the shooting to buy shotgun shells.
After a failed attempt at a store in Overland Park, the group obtained the shells at a store in the Shawnee area.
Jesse Guardado, Juan's brother, drove the other two men to Oliver's apartment, which was also the residence of Tanika Crutchfield. Oliver was the girlfriend of Tanika's father.
Tanika testified that she awoke to a loud noise and the front door opening.
A man wearing a mask and armed with a shotgun entered the apartment and went to the bedroom where Oliver was sleeping.
The masked gunman fired one shot, which hit Oliver in the upper right thigh.
Arambula allegedly did not want to kill Oliver and shot at her legs, Ahumada testified. However, Oliver bled to death from the shotgun wound.
Tanika said the gunmen, which she identified in court as Arambula, told her the shooting was drug related, however, she said no one living at the apartment used drugs.
Crutchfield allegedly stood outside the apartment during the shooting; he was armed with a handgun, witnesses said.
Jesse Guardado allegedly drove the men back to the Kansas City, Kan., area after the shooting.
Judge William Cleaver found there was enough evidence to have Arambula stand trial on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated burglary.
Cleaver scheduled a jury trial for Jan. 7.
Defense attorney David R. Gilman entered not-guilty pleas to the charges on Arambula's behalf following the judge's decision.
Jesse Guardado is charged with first-degree murder and will have a preliminary hearing Nov. 27. He is being held on $2 million bond in the Johnson County Jail.
Juan Crutchfield has not been charged in the murder case.