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October 31, 2014

34-year-old Nicholas heyward

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mendoza police arrest two men in Kiwi murder case

By Jayson McNamara
Herald Staff
Police in Mendoza have arrested two men suspected of being involved in the murder of 31-year-old New Zealand tourist Nicholas Heyward in Mendoza in April.

“We’ve arrested two men — one aged 34 and the other 20,” the prosecutor handling the case, Santiago Garay, confirmed to the Herald.

He said despite initial reports that the man who shot Heyward was a teenager, police had evidence to suggest the elder of the two, Marco Leiva Soda, was the shooter.

“It was the 34-year-old who is believed to have shot Nicholas Heyward, the one who wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time,” Garay added.

Police carried out of four raids on Tuesday, arresting Leiva Soda in the La Favorita neighbourhood where police had first suspected the pair had fled. There, they were able to locate the motorcycle allegedly used in the incident, on which the two men are believed to have fled from the scene of the crime, the well-known San Martín Park.

The 20-year-old man, Adrián Soda — Leiva Soda’s nephew — was arrested when he handed himself into police in relation to a separate crime.“I had suspected the two men from early on in the investigation. It’s just been a matter of gathering the evidence,” Garay said.

Both men have sizeable criminal records, including aggravated assault charges and attempted homicide, police sources told local media yesterday.

The prosecuter is now looking into arranging a conference call with the French tourist Pierre D’Amico who was with Heyward at the time of the incident.“We’re still establishing how a conference call might be carried out,” Garay said, confirming that the murder weapon has not yet been found.

The men are from the San Martín neighbourhood in Mendoza, where the death of Heyward sparked an outcry from local residents about the alleged growth in violent crime in recent years.

Heyward had been travelling through South America at the time of his murder, and had arrived in Mendoza with D’Amico and an Australian national, Fiona Darling, both of whom witnessed the event. He was shot four times on April 28 during an encounter with thieves wanting to steal his backpack, and died at the scene as a result of his injuries.

The violent nature of the attack surprised even local police officials, with Mendoza Police Chief Juan Carlos Caleri telling the Herald at the time “the victim is said to have fallen to the ground as the criminals began fleeing. They shot him as they left the scene, which does not make sense in terms of normal crime patterns.”A reward of 40,000 pesos had been offered for information relating to the crime, which the provincial Security Ministry says is still available.

Heyward was a trained physiotherapist who had been living in Australia prior to his trip to South America.

@jaysonmcnamara

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