Two suspects have been arrested and charged with criminal homicide in the Tuesday evening triple murder of two children and a teenager on Lebanon’s north side, and a third suspect remained at large as of Thursday morning.

The dead are 8-year-old Jesus Perez-Salome, his 9-year-old brother, Sebastian Perez-Salome, and 19-year-old Joshua Lugo-Perez.

A fourth victim, 33-year-old Luis Cancel, was injured in the shootings. At last word, he remained hospitalized.

The killings occurred at 444 N. 5th St. in the city.

Read More: City police investigate triple homicide

Read More: Triple homicide in Lebanon city: Victims were 8, 9, 19; 33-year-old hospitalized

Police tape cordons off Cherry St. at the rear of 444 N. 5th St., the large tan building. Four people were shot, three fatally, on Tuesday evening, May 30. Two suspects have been arrested while a third remains at large. (LebTown)

Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf identified the defendants as 22-year-old Alex Torres-Santos and James Fernandez-Reyes, a 16-year-old juvenile who is being charged as an adult.

Both were arrested without incident and are incarcerated on criminal homicide charges at the Lebanon County Correctional Facility, without bail.

Each will be charged with three counts of general criminal homicide, three counts of criminal conspiracy to commit homicide, and one count of aggravated assault.

Hess Graf said Thursday morning that an unidentified male was a third suspect, and was still at large.

More details emerge

Appearing at a Thursday morning press conference called by Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello, Hess Graf said she expects that the general homicide charges will change after she decides whether to seek the death penalty against any of the defendants, once the investigation is complete.

Hess Graf said Jesus died on his back porch, Sebastian died in a Dauphin County hospital, and Lugo-Perez died in a Lebanon County hospital.

Cancel, the injured victim, was a neighbor who City Police Chief Bret Fisher said was “hit in the next-door residence by what appeared to be a stray, untargeted bullet.”

Fisher said Thursday morning that law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at 434 N. 9th St. after the shootings, where the two defendants were located, and that both fled. One was apprehended immediately; the other was found shortly later in a nearby building and taken into custody.

Fisher said the search of the N. 9th Street property uncovered “two firearms believed to be involved in the incident.”

Police and the DA had earlier said that 27 rounds were believed to have been fired at the scene, and that at least one of the weapons used was an AR-15 style assault rifle consistent with shell casings found on scene.

DA questions bail reduction on earlier charges, but did not appeal

Court records show that Torres-Santos was charged on Feb. 9 in separate prosecutions with serious crimes, including two counts of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon causing or attempting to cause bodily harm.

Read More: 22-year-old Lebanon man arrested for two recent non-fatal shootings in city

According to a media release from the District Attorney’s office, Torres-Santos was on house arrest for his February charges, with an ankle monitor, when Tuesday’s triple murders occurred.

Court records indicate that Torres-Santos’ bail on the February charges was originally set at $100,000 by Magisterial District Judge Aurelis Figueroa. On Feb. 23, Judge Figueroa reduced bail to $50,000, which was posted that day through a bond agency, and Torres-Santos was released from custody.

In her media release, Hess Graf was critical of Figueroa’s February bail reduction, saying that “during his Preliminary Hearings on the prior offenses, the District Attorney’s Office requested bail remain the same on each case. Over objection, Magisterial Judge Aurelis Figueroa of Lebanon City lowered bail to $50,000.00.”

Hess Graf added that “the location monitor and minimal bail imposed by [Figueroa] thus served as no deterrent to a violent criminal willing to take a life.”

Hess Graf could have appealed Figueroa’s $50,000 bail reduction to the Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas at any time after Feb. 23, if she believed the reduced bail was inadequate to protect public safety or to keep Torres-Santos from fleeing. However, court records contain no indication that she ever did.

Reached by telephone on the morning of June 1, Hess Graf confirmed that her office had never appealed Torres-Santos’ bail reduction to $50,000 at any time after Figueroa set it.

Hess Graf later told LebTown that Torres-Santos had additional interactions with Lebanon County Probation after that department had put him on house arrest and outfitted him with an electronic monitoring bracelet. Hess Graf said that at some point probation learned of a violation, and detained Torres-Santos for at least one day before a court appearance, but authorities ended up being unable to detain Torres-Santos further as Figueroa had not properly informed him of the conditions for his house arrest/bail.

A call to Figueroa’s office on Thursday morning had not received a reply as of publication time.

What happens next?

Court records show that a criminal complaint was filed against Torres-Santos overnight, charging him with three counts of criminal homicide, three counts of conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, as well as a handful of other felonies and firearms and drug-related charges. He was preliminarily arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Carl Garver.

Fernandez-Reyes was also charged with three counts of criminal homicide, three counts of conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, and several other felonies.

Both defendants are entitled to preliminary hearings before a Magisterial District Judge, at which the DA will have to show, on the face of the evidence, that a crime was committed and that the defendants probably did it.

The prosecution’s burden of proof at a preliminary hearing is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that is required at trial. Guilt or innocence is not determined at preliminary hearings.

Torres-Santos’ preliminary hearing is currently scheduled for June 22 in front of Figueroa. Fernandez-Reyes was also arraigned last night in front of Judge Garver, and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 8 in front of Figueroa.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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