Crime

Man found guilty in murder of Arlington mom who was selling jewelry for Christmas money

A man who killed a mother who was trying to sell some of her jewelry for Christmas money in 2016 was found guilty of capital murder on Monday, according to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office.

Mario Hernan Lopez Gamez was given an automatic life sentence without parole.

Police have said that April Vancleave, 33, used a smartphone app to sell her jewelry and had planned to meet Gamez, along with her husband, at the Target near South Cooper Street and Arbrook Boulevard in Arlington on Dec. 15.

When the buyer didn’t show, police said, Vancleave and her husband drove back to their apartment complex about a mile away. The husband dropped off Vancleave and headed back to work.

While in the parking lot, Vancleave was confronted and shot. Her jewelry and her purse are believed to have been stolen during the shooting.

A witness told police that two men in a maroon Ford F-150 shot her and left. Vancleave was hit in her stomach and died at Medical Center Arlington during surgery.

A tip from a woman in Mansfield, who said she was also robbed by Gamez, helped lead to his arrest.

Detectives visited the apartment complex where Gamez lived and spoke to two maintenance men, who identified the suspect as “Mario” and confirmed that he drove a maroon Ford pickup, according to an arrest affidavit.

The apartment manager on duty provided detectives with a copy of the lease agreement, which included a Honduran passport photo of the suspect, according to the affidavit.

Police also found Target surveillance video of the two men, who were seen waiting at the store when the Vancleaves arrived and later getting into a maroon Ford pickup and following the couple’s vehicle as they left.

Gamez was arrested in Houston in February 2017.

The second suspect in the case, Edwin Alexander Diaz, 27, was charged with capital murder and is awaiting trial. A the time of his arrest, police said that Diaz went by several names. He was originally booked under the name Alex Menor Diaz, until authorities were able to confirm his identity.

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