A man wanted for his alleged involvement in a 2016 fatal stabbing in a south Merced alley was recently arrested in Turlock, police confirmed on Tuesday.
The man, 19-year-old Joseph Angel Onate of Modesto, was picked up on suspicion of drug-related crimes in Turlock, according to Merced Sgt. Rey Alvarez. He was arrested on Feb. 21, according to jail records.
No timeline was immediately available, Alvarez said, but Onate is expected to face prosecution in Stanislaus County before he is transported to Merced County. He is expected to answer for his alleged involvement in the Nov. 27, 2016, slaying of 33-year-old Luis Gonzalez, who was stabbed to death in an alley near West 12th Street behind a fast-food restaurant, according to investigators.
Alvarez declined to say what exact role police believe Onate played in the 2016 attack.
Onate’s brother, Toby D. Onate, 19, already has been arrested, investigators confirmed. Merced police also have arrested Mauricio Soriano and a 16-year-old boy, who both have been charged with robbery.
Toby Onate was sentenced Friday to 11 years in state prison on a voluntary manslaughter charge, according to records. Soriano was sentenced in September to five years in state prison for robbery, according to court records.
Officers with the Modesto Police Department’s Street Gang Unit spotted Joseph Onate in February 2017 near the Sunrise Village Mobile Home Park in the 400 block of West Seventh Street, just south of the Tuolumne River, near Crows Landing Road in south Modesto, according to investigators.
Police and Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies surrounded the area and searched for several hours without success.
"He was on the run for a little bit. The trail went kind of dry on him," Alvarez said on Tuesday. "Luckily for us, Turlock (Police Department) was diligent in trying to get this guy identified."
According to police reports, Gonzalez was stabbed multiple times in the upper body during a fight with two people in an alley in the 1200 block of West 12th Street. Shortly after Gonzalez went down, two other people assaulted him while he was on the ground and robbed him, according to investigators.
Police have not commented on what was taken or said what they believe may have motivated the fight. Detectives have said they don’t believe the homicide was motivated by robbery, but that thieves took advantage of a badly injured man.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Moses Nelson at 209-388-7756, Merced police dispatch at 209-385-6905, or the Merced Police Department Tipster Line at 209-385-4725. The public can send information via anonymous text messages to the Police Department by dialing “TIP411” (847411) and including the word “ComVIP” as the keyword in the text message. Tips are confidential and callers may remain anonymous.