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Man pleads not guilty in 2004 Watsonville murder case

Suspect extradited from Mexico

Arrest made in 2004 Watsonville murder case

WATSONVILLE, Calif. - UPDATE: 8/8/2018 4:55 p.m. A man recently extradited from Mexico for his involvement in a Watsonville murder case was in court Wednesday. 

32-year-old Mario Lozano pleaded not guilty to his various charges, including murder and terrorist threats. 

Lozano is accused of murdering 17-year-old Isaac Guzman back in 2004. 

Lozano was extradited from Mexico for the crimes two weeks ago. A preliminary examination is scheduled for next week. 

PREVIOUS STORY: 8/2/2018 7:30 p.m.: A 14 year old cold case in Watsonville is finally solved.

Mario Alberto Lozano, 32, has been on the run since 2004. Tonight he sits behind bars in Santa Cruz County, charged for the murder of Isaac Guzman, 17. It's something Guzman's family didn't believe would ever happen. 

Watsonville Police say Guzman had just gotten out of school and was waiting for his dad to pick him up on Airport Blvd. on December 3, 2004. Authorities say Lozano chased, knocked down and repeatedly stabbed Guzman in broad daylight in an incident that may have been gang motivated. 

Passerbys took pictures of Lozano at the scene and fleeing, helping police to quickly identify him. However, he fled to Mexico a few days later with the help of his mother, who was later prosecuted and convicted for aiding in his escape. 

About two years ago, there was a break in the case. Tips started coming into Watsonville Police via social media. That's when the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office and the FBI got involved. The feds issued a federal arrest warrant for Lozano and offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to him. 

Once investigators confirmed his identity in February, he was arrested in Mexicali. But then came the tedious task to extradite him back to the United States. It was a long drawn out process and authorities wanted to make sure their case was air-tight.

"This case was a little more difficult in some ways because we have somebody who is not a citizen of the United States," said Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell. "Mr. Lozano was actually a citizen of Mexico."

He was extradited back to the United States on Wednesday. He is expected to be arraigned on First Degree Murder, Use of a Deadly Weapon and Participating in Gang Activity charges. Bail has been set at $5 million. 

Guzman's family never gave up hope, making sure his story appeared on 'America's Most Wanted.'

News of his capture was something they never thought they'd see. 

"To finally hear the words we've been wanting to hear, 'Mario Lozano is in custody in Santa Cruz' were the words we've wanted to hear for many years, so we thank everybody," his aunt said.

That includes those in the community who have helped, from taking pictures of Lozano at the crime scene, to those who sent in the tips. 

"It is so important for the community to know they are a part of what we do every single day," said Capt. Jorge Zamora, who was assigned to the case years ago. 

The FBI said the $20,000 reward has already been paid out. 

ORIGINAL POST: An arrest has been made in a 14-year-old cold case out of Santa Cruz County. 

Authorities have arrested Mario Alberto Lozano in connection to the murder of 17-year-old Isaac Guzman in December of 2004.

Detectives said Lozano brutally stabbed the teen multiple times in broad daylight in Watsonville.

Watsonville Police Chief David Honda said Guzman had left school for the day and was waiting for his father when Lozano stabbed him to death. 

Authorities learned of Lozano's whereabouts two years ago. He was arrested and extradited from Mexico to Santa Cruz County on Wednesday. 

District Attorney, Jeff Rosell said “This case was a little more difficult in some ways because we have somebody who is not a citizen of the United States. Mr. Lozano was actually a citizen of Mexico. He was assisted by a family member, his mother who we prosecuted, my predecessor prosecuted her for assisting him, her son in going to Mexico."

Lozano's bail was set at $5 million and his arraignment will be Friday, August 3. 

KION's Mariana Hicks will have more at 5 and 6 p.m. 


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