Jurors hear police interview of Canyon County boy accused of killing fellow 16-year-old

Nampa Police Department

Canyon County prosecutors continued the trial of a 16-year-old Nampa boy accused of murder on Friday by playing the audio recording of his interview with Nampa police to jurors.

Juan Menchaca Olvera, of Nampa, is accused of fatally shooting 16-year-old Roberto “Robert” Angel Gomez last year. His trial started Monday in Caldwell in 3rd District Court in front of Judge George Southworth.

Menchaca Olvera is being charged as an adult, and is accused of first-degree murder and robbery.

Prosecutors played jurors a portion of Menchaca Olvera’s interview with Nampa Detective Kari Seibel. Throughout the interview, Menchaca Olvera changes his story about whether he was or was not at the scene of Gomez’s shooting.

The detective asked him to “be honest,” and he repeatedly told her “it wasn’t me” when she asked him whether he shot Gomez. Menchaca Olvera acknowledged that he was using meth that day, and he stuttered frequently throughout the interview.

Gomez died at a hospital from multiple gunshot wounds on Sept. 25, 2018, after he was shot near 11th Avenue North and Powell Avenue in Nampa.

The detective told Menchaca Olvera during the interview that multiple members of his family and friends were saying that he had something to do with it.

He responded with “that can’t be. No. That can’t be.”

After investigating Gomez’s death, prosecutors initially charged Menchaca Olvera, as well as four adults — including his mother, Maribel Menchaca — and three other juveniles. Since then, Maribel Menchaca’s charges have been dismissed, but in April the Canyon County Prosecutor’s Office said it plans to refile charges against her.

Jose M. Menchaca, 39, is Menchaca Olvera’s uncle, and he was accused of going to the location of the shooting with Menchaca Olvera. Jose M. Menchaca has also been accused of beating up Gomez before Gomez was shot. He is charged on suspicion of aiding and abetting robbery and has pleaded not guilty.

The other suspects charged in connection to Gomez’s death are:

  • Elizabeth Esparza, 28, of Caldwell — accessory to first-degree murder, aiding and abetting robbery, and perjury. She’s pleaded not guilty.

  • Olivia Hernandez-Santana, 35, of Caldwell — accessory to first-degree murder, intimidation of a witness and perjury. She’s pleaded not guilty.

  • Jose A. Menchaca, 17, of Nampa — pleaded guilty to perjury on May 14 and will be sentenced on Aug. 16.

  • Isaac Bernal, 16, of Nampa — accessory to first-degree murder, and aiding and abetting robbery. He’s pleaded not guilty.

  • Gabriel Hernandez Olivo, 16, of Caldwell — pleaded guilty on May 8 to accessory to a felony, intimidation of a witness and evidence destruction. He will be sentenced Sept. 10.

At one point in the interview with police, Menchaca Olvera broke down and told the detective that he’s just 16, younger than some of the other people allegedly involved, and he didn’t want to be a “nark.”

“I’m vulnerable. I’m a little kid,” he told the detective in the recording.

A second witness testified Friday, a teenage girl who knew both Gomez and Menchaca Olvera. She said that she saw Menchaca Olvera on the day of the shooting and that he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and paranoid, and had a gun.

Prosecutors will continue to present evidence next week and are expected to showcase more recorded interviews between Menchaca Olvera and police. The trial will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and the state is expected to conclude presenting evidence by Wednesday.

If convicted, Menchaca Olvera faces up to life in prison.

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Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.