A Merced man was charged with murder Friday for the slaying of a man who was gunned down in 2014 as he rode a bicycle through a residential area of south Merced, authorities said.
William Villegas, 21, was charged with first-degree murder and allegations of street-gang involvement and firearm use, according to Rob Carroll, chief deputy district attorney.
Investigators say the killing of Steven Mays was gang-related. The 27-year-old man was shot Oct. 2, 2014, as he rode along the 1100 block of M Street. Mays was found in the middle of the intersection, suffering from numerous gunshot wounds. He died later at a Modesto hospital.
Villegas was arrested on Wednesday at an apartment in the 1200 block of West First Street after a brief foot chase, according to police.
If convicted, Villegas faces a maximum prison sentence of 40 years to life, prosecutors said.
Carroll praised the investigation conducted by the Merced Police Department, led by Detective Jeff Horn.
“He did a great job picking up the pieces of a cold case and finished it up for us,” Carroll said Friday.
Horn shared credit with his co-workers and retired Detective Paul Johnson. He said he hoped the arrest gives some measure of comfort to Mays’ family, “as much as they can have at least in this situation.”
Horn declined to elaborate on details of the investigation, including the motive in the case, saying detectives have not ruled out the possibility of making additional arrests.
The detective said the murder weapon has not been recovered.
Villegas was being held in custody without bail at the Merced County jail.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482