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'Leader At Gangster City' Allegedly Kills Man Over Social Media Insults Of Girlfriend

Juan Jose Esparza initially claimed he watched Joel Diaz Sanchez kill himself over video chat, but police say the suicide theory doesn't add up. 

By Gina Tron
Juan Jose Esparza Pd

A Florida man is accused of killing another man who'd posted derogatory remarks about his girlfriend on social media. Then, he allegedly tried to cover up the murder by claiming that he watched the victim commit suicide.

Juan Jose Esparza, 20, of Bradenton is charged with murder, armed burglary and additional charges for the killing of Joel Diaz Sanchez, who was found dead on Saturday in his Sarasota home with a gunshot wound to his head, the Miami Herald reports.

Officers were first called to the home that morning for what they thought was a possible suicide, according to the Sarasota Police Department.

However, “evidence revealed that the victim did not die by suicide,” police noted.

While a 9mm shell casing was found inside the home, a gun was nowhere to be found.

The idea that Sanchez committed suicide allegedly came from Esparza texting the victim's brother telling him he'd watched Sanchez kill himself while video chatting with him on Friday, according to the Miami Herald. 

Juan Jose Esparza Pd

After neighbors told investigators that they spotted Esparza at the home on Friday, Esparza allegedly changed his story and admitted that he was there but denied responsibility for Sanchez's death. Instead, he claimed he watched the victim shoot himself in the head in person while they were having a conversation.

Esparza had allegedly confronted Sanchez over social media posts he made about Esparza’s girlfriend, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Esparza and his girlfriend actually broke up right before the confrontation because of an Facebook altercation between the two men.

Initially Esparza was charged over the weekend with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and tampering with physical evidence in association with the investigation but the charges were elevated to murder by Tuesday. It’s not clear if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf at this time. 

Last year, Esparza was arrested on both a carrying a concealed firearm charge and a resisting arrest with violence charge. He was convicted of the latter, and ordered to take anger management classes. He refers to himself as “Leader at Gangster City” on his Facebook.

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