The attorney representing the man identified by authorities as the leader of a group of people who robbed La Placita market in 2017 and killed a person there has requested a postponement in the sentencing hearing.
Jorge Caballero-Melgar, 36, of Nashville, awaits sentencing on charges of murder through use of a firearm during a crime of violence, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery, conspiracy to carry or possess a firearm during a crime of violence and illegal re-entry after deportation.
Caballero-Melgar is one of five people convicted in the March 17, 2017, robbery of La Placita.
Jose Cruz, 31, of Bowling Green, was shot and killed while attempting to intervene in the robbery of the Morgantown Road business.
Four of the co-defendants entered guilty pleas to various charges, while Caballero-Melgar took his case to trial and was convicted on all counts this year.
He faces a potential life sentence and was scheduled to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green for his sentencing hearing. Attorney Bryce Caldwell, however, filed a motion Friday on behalf of Caballero-Melgar requesting the hearing be postponed to a later date.
In his motion, Caldwell said a scheduling conflict has arisen with another criminal case for which he was retained last month.
That case is pending in Daviess Circuit Court and involves a defendant charged with two counts of murder and a first-degree assault count, with a trial set for Sept. 20, Caldwell said.
“As a result, I am respectfully requesting the court to enter an order allowing additional time to finalize preparation for the sentencing hearing in (Caballero-Melgar’s) matter,” Caldwell said in the motion.
Caldwell said the prosecutor in the Daviess County case has filed a motion to continue the trial based on obtaining new evidence that has not yet been turned over to the defense, but Caldwell plans to oppose a continuance in that matter.
Caldwell said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky has informed him that it will not object to a continuance in Caballero-Melgar’s case.
Caballero-Melgar was found guilty in a trial held in May, and his sentencing has already been rescheduled once.
At the trial, co-defendant Jonny Alexander Reyes-Martinez admitted firing the shot that killed Cruz and testified that Caballero-Melgar had the idea to rob La Placita and armed Reyes-Martinez with the handgun used in the shooting.
Other co-defendants testified Caballero-Melgar chose the businesses that would be targeted for robbery, would remain in touch over the phone during each crime with the robbers and would take an equal share of the money from each heist.
The investigation into the conspiracy resulted in indictments against 13 people who were charged with a variety of offenses stemming from robberies that occurred over a period of nearly a year in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and North Carolina.
Caballero-Melgar and Reyes-Martinez await sentencing for their roles in the La Placita robbery.
Jose Adan Mejia Varela, who was in the store when Cruz was shot, was sentenced to 12 years and two months in prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges.
Lilian Duron and Estrellita Soto pleaded guilty to a single count of robbery in the La Placita case.
Federal prosecutors said they conducted surveillance of the business ahead of the robbery but were on their way back to Nashville by the time the robbery occurred. Soto is serving a sentence of five years and 10 months, while Duron was sentenced to four years in prison.
– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.