(As this article contains subject and details that some could find disturbing, discretion is advised)
PHOENIX – Court documents are revealing some shocking details surrounding the death of a man in the West Valley.
The incident, which is being called a "brutal murder," happened on Nov. 26, but the suspects were arrested over the weekend.
Here's what to know about the case.
Who are the suspects?
Manuel Carrasco Calderon
Court documents identified the suspects as:
- Manuel Carrasco Calderon, 21
- Jose David Rodriguez, 20
- Leonardo Santiago, 21
On Dec. 6, Phoenix Police identified a fourth suspect in connection with the case: 21-year-old Christopher Ibarra, and on Dec. 8, police connected Santiago to another murder that happened in March 2023.
What did the three allegedly do?
The incident, as mentioned above, happened on Nov. 26.
According to investigators, Phoenix Police officers responded to a public park in the area of 7th Avenue and Cinnabar Avenue, after someone reported that a person was injured and possibly dead in the area.
Court documents state the victim was found dead in the desert area northeast of the park. While court documents we received did not name the victim, police have identified the victim as 30-year-old Bernardo Pantaleon.
Investigators said Pantaleon was found partially obscured behind or underneath a small tree, and appeared to have been shot multiple times.
"[The victim's] body was mutilated, postmortem, with a sharp-edged object," read a portion of the court documents.
On Nov. 30, court documents state that the victim's family members received two photographs via a social media site, one of which showed a person flipping their middle finger, and the other showing the victim's mutilated body. In Rodriguez's court documents, investigators state that the photos were sent from Rodriguez's social media account.
Eventually, investigators said they found a group thread/conversation in regards to looking for Pantaleon, and wanting to rob and kill him. On Nov. 25, one of the defendants said in the chat that he was "going to get the victim tonight."
"Members of the chat repeatedly asked for updates, lamented they were not invited, asked to see video/photograph proof, and one co-defendant offered to hide the codefendant, or shooter, after the murder was completed," read a portion of the court documents. "A few days later, all co-defendants discussed how the news was covering the story. Some made derogatory remarks regarding the victim's sexuality, and a derogatory statement about homosexuals not being allowed in the northside."
"Several things associated with the profiles in the chat, to include XV and 15 in their usernames, along with repeatedly referring to themselves as gang (sic), indicate the defendant and codefendants were involved in a criminal street gang," read a portion of the court documents.
The suspects, police say were arrested on Dec. 2.
What did the suspects say following their arrests?
(From left to right) Leonardo Santiago, Manuel Carrasco Calderon, and Jose David Rodriguez
Calderon and Rodriguez
In court documents for both Calderon and Sanchez, investigators state the defendants admitted, after they were read their Miranda rights, to knowing that a co-defendant was planning to kill Pantaleon, but did not do anything about it. The two also admitted it was wrong to not say anything.
The two, according to court documents, also admitted to discussing various aspects of the murder, including when, where, and how it would be done. Videos and photographs were also passed around.
In Carrasco's court documents, investigators state that the defendant who shot Pantaleon contacted him after the murder and asked for help. Investigators said Carrasco used a knife with a brass knuckle handle to mutilate Pantaleon's body.
In Rodriguez's court documents, investigators said Rodriguez admitted to receiving photographs from the person who shot Pantaleon, but denied sending the photos to Pantaleon's family, even though the photos were sent from his social media profile.
In his court documents, investigators said that Santiago admitted to knowing the victim, after denying it first.
Santiago, according to police, initially claimed the murder happened due to an "unwanted advance" that made the suspect uncomfortable, but he later changed his story, and blamed a third person.
"[Santiago] provided only a first name, and could not provide a way of contacting this person, commenting this person just shows up, indicating as if it was out of thin air," read a portion of the court documents.
Court documents for Santiago state that Santiago admitted to being present when the victim was mutilated. He claimed it was a co-defendant's idea, but that was contradicted by the co-defendant in question, who was not identified in the court documents.
What crimes are the three being accused of?
All three suspects are accused of Assisting a Criminal Street Gang (A.R.S. 13-2321B).
In addition to the aforementioned offense, Carrasco is accused of Conspiracy to Commit Premeditated 1st Degree Murder (A.R.S. 13-1105A1), and Conspiracy to Commit Crimes Against a Dead Person (A.R.S. 32-1364).
Santiago, meanwhile, is accused of Premeditated 1st Degree Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Crimes Against a Dead Person, while Rodriguez is also accused of Conspiracy to Commit Crimes Against a Dead Person.
A judge has set the following cash-only bail for the suspects:
- Carrasco: $1 million
- Santiago: $2 million
- Rodriguez: $500,000
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for all three suspects on Dec. 12.