VISTA, Calif. - A 19-year-old man accused of killing a close friend during an alcohol-fueled fight, then dumping the victim's body in Valley Center and bragging about his actions on the Snapchat social media app, must stand trial for murder, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Salvador Alejandro Sanchez of Escondido faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the death last month of 20-year-old Maithem Alfuraiji.
Investigators who testified during the defendant's preliminary hearing alleged that Sanchez lived by the loyalty creed of "ride or die" from the movie series "Fast and Furious" and on April 27 challenged Alfuraiji to a fight to the death and killed him.
Sanchez allegedly walked with Alfuraiji to an Escondido park. The two talked about disappointments in their life before a fight broke out, a prosecutor said. Sanchez, a former high school wrestler, is accused of putting Alfuraiji in a choke hold until he died, an investigator said.
Sanchez allegedly "dumped the victim's body and buried it in tall grass" in an area off East Paradise Creek Lane in Valley Center, police have said.
On April 29, friends of the victim saw Snapchat posts from the suspect alluding to a possible homicide and alerted the San Diego County Sheriff's department, which in turn notified the Escondido Police Department.
Alfuraiji's body was discovered the next day and Sanchez was taken into custody in the vicinity of Ash Street and Grand Avenue in Escondido that afternoon.
"He told multiple people that it would be a fight to the death. One person was going to be leaving alive and one person wasn't. That's exactly what happened," the prosecutor said.
Friends of the victim and suspect told FOX 5 that Sanchez wore a white shirt, a white hoodie and white shorts representing purity.
"Sanchez showed us the evidence and the [white] clothing covered in blood," one witness said. "I looked at his face and saw pure evil."
Judge Richard Whitney ruled enough evidence was presented at the preliminary hearing for Sanchez to stand trial on Sept. 12. A readiness conference was set for Aug. 14.
An online fundraiser has been set up to help the family with funeral costs for Alfuraiji.