Wilfredo Rodriguez Chicas, 28, pleaded guilty on August 3, 2016, to the first degree murder of Alejandro Diaz Alvarez, 39, early in the morning of March 16, 2015. Alvarez had been sitting in his car in the parking lot of Santa Maria’s La Vista apartments, warming it up before driving to work in the fields nearby. Chicas, who had been hiding in wait, came out of the bushes and shot him. Alvarez died at the scene.
Multiple media reports have noted the similarities between Alvarez’s killing and the unsolved murder of Pedro Antonio Lainez-Lopez in December 2014. Both men were killed in their cars as they both headed to work at about 5 a.m. within a block of each other near West Morrison Avenue. The Santa Maria Police Department was able to identify Chicas as someone known to Alvarez, said Sgt. Paul Flores with the SMPD Detective Bureau, and arrested him the day after the murder. Lainez-Lopez’s killer remains at large. Chicas was sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison on August 10, said prosecutor Jennifer Karapetian.