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Quincy man sentenced to 17 years for murder

Staff Writer | December 24, 2020 1:00 AM

EPHRATA — A Quincy man was sentenced Friday to 17 years in prison after pleading guilty earlier this month to murdering a man whose body was found in August wrapped in garbage bags and hidden in the closet of his bedroom.

Martin Diaz Jr., 30, pleaded guilty Dec. 7 to second-degree murder and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Prosecutors recommended that Diaz receive 204 months in prison in exchange for his guilty plea.

Quincy police were dispatched Aug. 11 to the 700 block of Rocky Avenue Northeast around 10 p.m. for a report of a foul odor emanating from Diaz’ bedroom, according to a police report. When officers arrived, they reported smelling rotting flesh from outside the home, and upon investigating, located a six-foot-long object wrapped in black plastic bags and bound with tape.

The deputy Grant County coroner was called to the scene, and law enforcement cut open the bags, discovering what appeared to be the body of a large male, who was identified as Abel Vargas. Vargas’ age and residence were not provided in court records.

Investigators also reportedly located a number of air fresheners and disposable gloves around the room, as well as blankets that appeared to have been used to mop up bodily fluids.

A bag containing blood-soaked clothing was also found, according to the police report, as well as a wallet, which police later confirmed belonged to the victim. Police also located a spent .40 caliber casing in the bedroom.

Through interviews, police discovered the victim was dropped off at Diaz’s home on Aug. 8 and was not heard from since. A witness also contacted law enforcement and said she visited Diaz earlier on Aug. 11, and Diaz told her the bag contained dead animals he intended to hide under people’s houses. Once the corpses decomposed, the residents would vacate and could be more easily burglarized, Diaz reportedly told her.

Diaz reportedly later called that witness and admitted to killing Vargas, saying the victim had tried to coerce him into killing someone else, and threatened to hurt Diaz’s family when he allegedly refused, according to court documents. Diaz then reportedly told her he shot the victim three times.

After speaking with this witness, police were able to locate Diaz Aug. 12 in Moses Lake. He reportedly had a semi-automatic handgun, heroin and methamphetamine in a fanny-pack when he was arrested.

During an interview with law enforcement, Diaz reportedly reiterated he believed his family’s safety was in danger, although he also said he did not believe the victim had a firearm at the time he was killed.

Diaz also allegedly told officers he received the handgun from an unspecified cartel.

In addition to his prison sentence, Diaz was ordered to three years in community custody.