Crime

Charlotte man convicted of murder in killings of ‘Top Model’ contestant, 3 others

Mirjana Puhar, 19, an one-time aspiring model, was one of three people found shot to death near uptown on Feb. 24, 2015. On Tuesday, Edward Sanchez of Charlotte was convicted of murder in her death and three others.
Mirjana Puhar, 19, an one-time aspiring model, was one of three people found shot to death near uptown on Feb. 24, 2015. On Tuesday, Edward Sanchez of Charlotte was convicted of murder in her death and three others. Observer file

A Mecklenburg County jury Tuesday convicted Edward Sanchez of four counts of first-degree murder in connection with two drug-related killings in 2015.

After a 10-day trial, Sanchez, 21, received a life sentence without parole for each death, plus another 13 years for a separate attempted murder conviction. One of his victims was Mirjana Puhar, a former contestant on the TV show, “America’s Next Top Model.”

The killings occurred in February 2015: Rosool Harrell, 22, a Xanax dealer, was shot three times in the back outside a Matthews hotel. A companion of Harrell’s was seriously wounded.

Puhar, 19, her heroin-dealer boyfriend Jonathan “Cupie” Alvarado, 23, and Jusmar Gonzaga-Garcia, 21, were found shot to death two days later in a small house not far from uptown.

After deliberating for about 90 minutes, the jury announced its verdict to Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson around midday.

Sanchez’s accused co-conspirator, Emmanuel Rangel, still faces his own murder trial connected to the same killings. In 2015, federal officials said Rangel had wrongly been granted protection from deportation despite appearing in a federal database of suspected gang members.

Sanchez was convicted in part on evidence provided by loved ones. It was his father who first notified Charlotte-Mecklenburg police that his son and Rangel had been involved in the robberies and killings.

His former girlfriend and accomplice, Emily Isaacs, testified about the Matthews shootings, and how after the second robbery and killings, she and Sanchez bolted on a 1,000-mile, get-away sprint toward the Mexican border. She faces a murder charge in connection with Harrell’s death.

A Texas state trooper stopped Isaacs’ speeding car outside of Houston. Prosecutors say police found Puhar’s blood on Sanchez’s boots and jeans.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

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