Witness interviews holding up Blanco murder trial

Alfredo Blanco

Alfredo Blanco

KINGMAN – The first-degree murder trial for suspected killer Alfredo Gerardo Blanco is on schedule for Sept. 25 in Mohave County Superior Court, though it may be delayed a week if witness interviews are not finished by that time, prosecuting attorney Bob Moon said Tuesday at a pretrial hearing.

In a 10-minute hearing before Judge Rick Lambert, Moon said he asked defense attorney Robin Puchek for possible dates on conducting the interviews, but had not received a response.

Puchek was not present at Tuesday’s hearing, where Mohave County public defender Ira Shiflett was sitting in for him. Moon said he’s hoping to start the interviews when Puchek returns to town.

There are more than 20 witnesses in the case, but Moon said he didn’t anticipate any unforeseen witnesses that could push back the trial.

There is a chance that separate motions are filed to admit or deny certain evidence, Moon added. Shiflett had nothing to say on behalf of Blanco.

Blanco is charged with killing real estate agent Sydney Cranston Jr. in June 2015 and burying his body on a ranch about 20 miles east of Kingman. Cranston’s body was discovered in January 2017, and Blanco was arrested a couple days later at a rehabilitation home in the Phoenix area.

He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, concealment of a dead body and tampering with evidence.

Bill Sanders, an acquaintance of Blanco who led police to Cranston’s body, will be one of the key witnesses. He entered a guilty plea Feb. 16 to a Class 5 felony of concealment of a dead body. He is scheduled for judgment and sentencing Aug. 31 in front of Lambert.