- Associated Press - Sunday, June 22, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A Southern California man arrested on suspicion of killing two young brothers and one sibling’s fiancee has a previous criminal record.

Carlo Gallopa Mercado, 29, was jailed on gun-related offenses in April and charged a week later in a San Diego-area court, but it wasn’t immediately clear if those charges had any connection to the murder case, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1pW75jW ).

Mercado was arrested late Friday and booked on suspicion of killing Salvadore Belvedere and Ilona Flint, both 22, in the early hours of Christmas Eve last year. Belvedere’s 24-year-old brother Gianni, who was Flint’s fiance, disappeared around the same time.

He was found dead in a car trunk about 3 ½ weeks later and some 90 miles north in Riverside after a caller reported a bad smell coming from a vehicle in a parking lot. He had also been shot in the head.

Mercado’s attorney Michael Berg told KNSD-TV that his client denies any involvement in the killings.

“He doesn’t fit the mold. I haven’t seen anything that would tie him to these homicides, to the victims,” Berg said.

He said Mercado was hospitalized under guard Sunday after being injured in the county jail. Berg declined to say what happened to his client.

Mercado was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Police would not say what relationship, if any, the suspect had to the victims or release what evidence led his arrest.

Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman planned to discuss the investigation and arrest at a Monday news conference.


Information from: U-T San Diego, https://www.utsandiego.com

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