Cold Case Heats Up With Suspect Release

A La Vista man charged with First Degree murder was released from the Pottawattamie County jail Thursday on his own recognizance. Thomas Sanchez waived his right to a speedy trial and another man, James Harris, will be tried for the murder that happened more than a decade ago.

Sanchez says he is innocent but his freedom might depend on what happens in the trial of Harris.


James Harris

Sanchez has been waiting since November to go home to his fiancé after being accused of a murder in which he says he had no involvement.

In July of 2003, Selena Alvarez-Hernandez was stabbed to death in the 1600 block on South 13th Street in Council Bluffs. There were several people around the victim. Everyone ran away before police arrived.

Several pieces of evidence were found at the scene but the case went cold. Ten years later, officials say a speck of blood on a $5 bill collected at the scene matched the DNA of Thomas Sanchez. He was arrested and charged with First Degree murder.

Sanchez said, “The police had witnesses back then, here’s the files that the lawyer gave me, compounding evidence and witnesses about this guy, this Mr. Harris guy. I still don’t even know what he looks like.”

James Cain Harris is now charged with First Degree Murder in that killing.

Sanchez said, “Nobody bothers to question him for 4,000 days or 10 years about any of this until they put me on the media and on the news, with my name and my details therefore giving him perfect alibi.”

Sanchez says he is innocent and God used him to bring the true killer to justice.

“They came at me Friday with a plea deal for like, 10, seven years and if Mr. Harris admits to it, five-years if you testify against him and there’s no way I can testify against him ‘cause I wasn’t there. I don’t even know the dude. I don’t know what he looks like. I know nothing about this.”

On Thursday morning, Sanchez went for it all, proposing to his fiancé and hoping to start anew, hoping to ride away from this entire ordeal but all of that might depend on how the Harris trial turns out.

James Cain Harris is scheduled to stand trial for First Degree Murder at the end of May.


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