- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - A man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, claiming that authorities wrongfully arrested him in connection with the death of a New Hope man.

News outlets report that Paul Vega filed the lawsuit last week, claiming that the sheriff’s office violated his civil rights when deputies arrested and charged him with murder in the death of his friend 40-year-old Manuel Vasquez, in July.

Vega said he notified authorities about Vasquez’s disappearance in July and later called the FBI after he felt there was a lack of interest in the case on the part of the sheriff’s office.

The lawsuit accuses the sheriff’s department of arresting him in retaliation for going to the FBI about the disappearance of Vasquez. It also says he was arrested without a warrant, probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

Vasquez’s remains were eventually found on Vasquez’s property. His wife, Christina Martinez, has been charged with murder in connection with the death. Vasquez’s mother-in-law, Lydia Martinez, has been charged as an accessory after the fact.

Authorities said Vasquez was shot and killed in his home. His body was then burned and the remains were spread throughout his yard.

Police originally suspected Vega after a letter containing the name “Paul” was found. Vega claims the letter was written by Vasquez’s wife.

Vega is seeking $750,000 in the lawsuit.

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