KINGMAN - A Dolan Springs man has been found not guilty of killing a local rancher's cow but guilty of taking the meat from the carcass and guilty of two weapons charges.
Juan Fuentes-Lozano, 36, was found not guilty of felony unlawful killing, selling or buying of livestock. He was found guilty of felony unlawful taking of a livestock carcass, possession of a weapon by a prohibited person and misconduct involving a weapon.
Fuentes-Lozano testified before a jury that he did not kill and butcher a local rancher's cow.
Two men, one identified only as "Jose" and another man he did not know, came to his house in July with a dead cow in the back of their truck, Fuentes-Lozano said through an interpreter. The men told him they picked up the dead cow as road kill and asked him if they could butcher the cow at his home and store the meat in his freezer. The men told him that they would pick up the meat later and planned to take it to Las Vegas.
Fuentes-Lozanao testified that he didn't know the cow belonged to a local rancher, Fuentes-Lozano said.
County Attorney Jace Zack used an animal DNA expert from California to prove that the blood found in the back of Fuentes-Lozano's truck matched the meat in the freezer and the hide found in the desert.
Fuentes-Lozano first told AZDA investigators that he bought the meat in the freezer from a store in Las Vegas, then told them that he butchered his own cow and finally told them that two men put the meat there, Zack said.
He didn't know where it came from, Fuentes-Lozano said. He didn't know why blood from the cow was found in the back of his truck or how the hide of the cow was dumped in the desert.
He theorized that his hired man and the two men that brought the cow borrowed his truck to dispose of the hide. He showed investigators from the Arizona Department of Agriculture the meat in his freezer and told them that two men put it there, he said.
"I never denied or tried to hide anything," Fuentes-Lozano said.
Zack also used a music video of Fuentes-Lozano participating in a gunfighter's show to prove that he had access to the numerous weapons, including an illegal sawed-off shotgun, that were seized from his property in July. At the time, Fuentes-Lozano was on probation and was prohibited from having weapons.
Fuentes-Lozano told the court that a number of the weapons were stored at his mother's house and that the illegal shotgun belonged to his brother.
Zack pointed out that Fuentes-Lozano's mother lived on his property. Fuentes-Lozano told the court that he sold an acre of his property to his mother, but hadn't changed the title over.
"This case is pretty obvious," Zack told the jury in his closing statements. "He will lie and has lied throughout this case."
Fuentes-Lozano told investigators that the hide and the meat were from two different animals, Zack said. Then when confronted with the DNA evidence he changed his story.
He denied knowledge of the guns on his property, Zack said. But after investigators found them, Fuentes-Lozano told investigators that he gave them to his mother. His story changed again when he was confronted with the gunfighter music video.
When confronted with the fact that the meat in his freezer wasn't frozen and couldn't have come from a store, Fuentes-Lozano told investigators about two guys that showed up with a dead cow, Zack said.
"He does a good job of blaming everyone else," Zack said.
Why would two guys he's only seen twice in town come to his home and ask to butcher a cow and store the meat in his freezer, Zack asked, adding it "didn't make sense."
"The defendant was caught red handed with someone else's cow in his freezer," Zack said.
The jury received the case around 11 a.m. and deliberated until about 1:45 p.m. before returning with a not guilty verdict for unlawful killing of livestock, but guilty on taking a livestock carcass and the two weapons charges.