Oregon man pleads not guilty in Vancouver murder




An Oregon man pleaded not guilty Thursday to a first-degree murder charge relating to the stabbing of a Vancouver resident.

Miguel Gonzalez-Munoz, 32, of Beaverton, was arraigned in Clark County Superior Court on the murder charge. The charge alleges he committed or was an accomplice to the killing of Jose Luis Chavira-Cruz, 37, following a robbery, burglary or kidnapping that occurred sometime between April 12 and May 5.

Nearly two months since Gonzalez-Munoz’s arrest, the details of the slaying are still sketchy. Defense attorney Charles Buckley said his client maintains that he did not stab Chavira-Cruz, but claims an unknown man named “Gordo” did.

So far, no one else has been arrested in connection to the killing. Vancouver police investigators have said they haven’t determined whether there is another murder suspect at large.

The homicide came to light April 25 when the victim’s girlfriend filed a missing persons report with the Hillsboro, Ore., Police Department. However, it took several weeks for the case to unfold.

Gonzalez-Munoz was arrested on May 10 in Roseville, Calif., after he was found to be in possession of the missing man’s debit cards. Questioned by investigators, Gonzalez-Munoz admitted being involved in the killing of Chavira-Cruz in the parking lot of the Evergreen Pointe Apartments, 4503 E. Fifth St., where the victim lived. The defendant said the stabbing happened on April 13.

He claimed that a man named “Gordo” committed the actual stabbing; Gonzalez-Munoz said Gordo was the dead man’s lover and was upset because he was seeing other men, according to court documents.

Gonzalez-Munoz allegedly admitted helping dump the body in a remote area of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation off Highway 26 in Oregon, according to court documents. On May 24, authorities recovered the remains.

A warrant was issued for his arrest on June 6, while Gonzalez-Munoz was already in custody in Washington County, Ore., on a suspicion of theft charge. He was extradited to Clark County later that month.

A tentative trial date was set for Aug. 27.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.