Mistrial declared in murder case
KINGMAN — The trial of a murder suspect charged with the murder of a Kingman real estate agent ended Thursday in a mistrial.
Alfredo Gerardo Blanco, 62, was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Sidney Cranston Jr., whose body was found about 18 months after his murder, buried on a remote property east of Kingman. He also was charged with tampering with physical evidence and concealing a dead body. He is being held in custody without bond.
Deputy Mohave County Attorney Bob Moon said Blanco’s retrial on the same charges will begin Nov. 27 again before Superior Court Judge Rick Lambert.
The mistrial was declared by Lambert after prosecution witness Bill Sanders, under questioning by Moon, made a statement during testimony on Thursday that revealed inadmissible evidence. After the statement was made in court, defense attorney Robin Puchek asked for a mistrial. Following a short recess during which Lambert met with both attorneys, a mistrial was declared. Lambert dismissed the jury and the case was continued until late November, to be tried in front of a different panel of jurists. Moon did not say what made the statement inadmissible.
Moon had argued that on June 16, 2015, Blanco took Cranston, 40, up to a 200-acre ranch about 20 miles east of Kingman where he allegedly shot him with a 12-gauge shotgun leaving him to die a slow death.
Blanco, a handyman who worked for Cranston, used a backhoe to dump Cranston’s body in a hole that the defendant had dug. Sanders reportedly helped Blanco move and bury the body. Sanders pleaded guilty to concealment of a dead body and tampering with evidence in a plea deal that included his testimony at Blanco’s trial.
Cranston’s remains were discovered Jan. 7, 2017, buried behind a barn on the ranch. Cranston death was later ruled a homicide. Cranston and Blanco’s phones were both located in Kingman on that day and Blanco’s phone was also located at the ranch.
Police officers interviewed Blanco at the Kingman Police Department in June 2015 when it was still considered a missing person case. FBI agents arrested Blanco Jan. 11, 2017 at a medical facility near Phoenix.
Puchek pointed the finger at Sanders, who, according to testimony, also was at the ranch when Cranston was murdered. Sanders also kept the secret of the murder for 18 months. Puchek said it was possible that Sanders shot at a snake and accidentally hit Cranston.
Sanders pleaded guilty in February to concealing a dead body and is waiting his sentence until after Blanco’s trial. He could be sentenced to up to one year in county jail.