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Merced County's 19th murder victim identified; Teen stabbed to death

A teenager who was stabbed to death in South Merced has been identified as 18-year-old Johnny Sanchez of Merced, the Merced County Coroner’s Office confirmed Monday.

Meanwhile, police are seeking information from any witnesses to help piece together the events leading up to the fatal stabbing.Sgt. Scott Skinner said some of the witness accounts have been conflicting. “Now we are in the process of figuring out exactly what happened, based on all of the accounts provided,” Skinner said.

Skinner said the suspects, brothers 23-year-old Angel Diaz Medina and 25-year-old Anselmo Diaz Medina, had attended a gathering Saturday night on the 1000 block of K Street prior to the stabbing.

Investigators believe that at least one of the suspects had “offended” someone at the gathering — and they left later that night. As the suspects were walking home, Skinner said they were approached by Sanchez — who may have been accompanied by other individuals.

Skinner said a physical confrontation occurred, resulting in Sanchez being stabbed multiple times — including a serious stab wound to the neck. He was able to run home and was transported to Mercy Medical Center Merced by family members, where he was pronounced dead.

The suspects were arrested by police near the intersection of 11th and E streets after 11:30 p.m., shortly after the stabbing occurred. Skinner said both men had blood on their clothes — and had tried to get rid of two knives by throwing them to the ground.

Lt. Tom Trindad said the suspects were arrested after a witness followed the men and pointed them out to a police officer. Skinner said Angel Diaz Medina also had what appeared to be a slicing wound on one of his hands — although police do not know how he received the wound. He also said that neither the victim or the suspects are documented gang members — and police have not reported the homicide as gang related.

Sanchez’s death is the 19th reported homicide this year in Merced County. Merced County reported 18 homicides last year — which means this year’s number of homicides has now surpassed that mark. The county reported 25 homicides in 2006, according to the Merced County Coroner’s Office.

Merced police initially reported that one of the suspects was named “Amselmo” Medina — although that name was later revised. The ages of the suspects were also revised on Monday.

Police are asking anyone with information about this crime to call the department's anonymous tip line at (209) 385-4725 or Detective Chris Russell at (209) 385-4707.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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