PHOENIX— Today Juan Zermeno (D.O.B. 06/21/1975) was sentenced to Natural Life for First Degree Murder, with an additional 14 years in the Department of Corrections for Burglary and Trafficking Stolen Property.
“Nothing can change the suffering the victim and his family had to endure from the events of that night, but today’s sentencing demonstrates our community’s resolve to hold the defendant accountable for his senseless and unjustifiable acts,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
On December 17, 2014 officers were called to check the welfare of 38-year-old Jesus Cortez after family members had not seen him for several days. Officers were able to enter the home after Zermeno, who worked closely with the victim, helped officers open the back door. Once inside, officers found the body of Cortez in the entryway of his home with more than 100 stab wounds and a broken knife nearby. Investigators later determined multiple items were missing from the home including the victim’s wallet, phone, and two vehicles.
At the time, Zermeno told investigators he last saw the victim when he came to the house to help with payroll on December 13, 2014 and had not seen him since.
A day later, police were contacted by a witness who told them Zermeno contacted him on December 14th asking him to help sell a vehicle which turned out to be one of the victim’s. The witness said Zermeno later told him he had taken the vehicles after fighting with and killing the owner.
Zermeno was found guilty by a jury on three of the charged counts on October 17, 2017.