Horseneck Road homicide suspect pleads not guilty, held without bail

Jul 20, 2020

More details have emerged in a South Dartmouth homicide as the suspect pleaded not guilty to assault with intent to murder and was ordered held without bail at New Bedford District Court on Monday afternoon.

23-year-old Franklin Antonio Amaya Paredes of New Bedford was arrested on Friday night in connection with the shooting death of 27-year-old Jose Cortez Cornejo on July 13.

Cornejo’s body was found on Horseneck Road early the next morning.

During the arraignment, prosecutors outlined a case based on video surveillance footage and cell phone evidence, while the defense emphasized that there is no physical evidence linking Paredes with the crime.

Prosecutor Natasha Azevedo stated that multiple witnesses in the Horseneck Road area heard several gunshots from around 11 to 11:30 p.m. on July 13.

Cornejo was found unresponsive and lying face down in a fetal position with four gunshot wounds on his face, side, and back, she noted.

He had been wearing tan jogging pants, a white t-shirt, a beanie, and sneakers, and had what appeared to be a footprint on his back. 

Four 9mm shell casings were found near his body. He was declared dead at the scene.

Investigators believe the homicide to be gang-related, Azevedo noted, and Paredes was “known to have a problem” with Cornejo, who was his cousin.

The two had attended a party in New Bedford earlier that evening.

According to the prosecutor, video footage shows both Paredes and Cornejo getting into a dark-colored Honda Pilot outside Boost Mobile on Cove Street with Paredes’ girlfriend at around 10:30 p.m. 

The girlfriend’s cell phone location data shows that the phone traveled to Horseneck Road, Azevedo stated, adding that a Facebook message sent from the phone at 11:19 p.m. reads “Here with Tony” in Spanish. Antonio is Paredes’ middle name.

Surveillance footage also captured the car on County Street.

Paredes has no prior criminal record in any state, Azevedo said, although there is a federal database entry noting that he may have entered the country illegally.

Defense attorney Dana A. Sargent stated that there is no evidence that his client committed the crime, noting that there is no admission of guilt, no blood, fingerprint, or DNA evidence, and no murder weapon.

“A number of witnesses spoke to police, and not one points to this individual being at the crime scene,” he stated.

Sargent said that Paredes got a ride with his girlfriend because his cousin was drunk, and that a Facebook message from someone else “does not put him on the scene.”

“We have no idea who got in and out of that car between [Boost Mobile] and Dartmouth,” he said after the arraignment.

Sargent filed motions to have his own private investigator look into the cell phone and video evidence.

District Court Judge Douglas Darnbrough ordered Paredes held without bail until his next hearing on August 25.