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11:15 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

Murder suspect bonds out of jail

Cecilio Cruz

Cecilio Cruz

Double-murder suspect Cecilio Cruz bonded out from the Yavapai County jail Dec. 29, allowing him to live at home and return to work until his trial.

Cruz, now 34, faces charges of premeditated murder in the 1997 killing of his former girlfriend, Marisol Gonzalez, 17, and her unborn son.

Cruz had long been a suspect in the murder, but police said they could not make the case strong enough for trial.

It was a reality TV show investigation that laid the pathway to Cruz's prosecution in the cold case.

After 17 years, the Cottonwood Police Department was unable to convince the County Attorney to take the case to the Grand Jury. But Sgt. Tod Moore convinced the producers of the TNT show "Cold Justice" to take the case, and the crew re-interviewed dozens of witnesses to lay a foundation for prosecution, while eliminating some loose ends.

The investigative work led to an indictment and warrant, and Cruz was arrested at the Tucson cemetery where he worked as a family counselor in September 2014.

When the case first went before a Pima County Justice of Peace, the judge reduced the bail to a $10,000 bond. Cruz paid the amount and was released without a hearing.

But when the case returned to Yavapai County Sept. 26, 2014, Yavapai Superior Court Judge Michael Bluff restored the original $100,000 cash-only bail amount, and Cruz was taken into custody.

Defense attorney John Napper exercised the defendant's right for a change of judge, and Judge Jennifer Campbell was assigned to the case in a Prescott court. Napper then filed a motion to modify release conditions and argued that Cruz had already proved he would honor conditions to appear, that he was gainfully employed, and he would return to work if released.

Judge Campbell agreed to allow the $100,000 bail to be cash only or a secured bond, needing only a 10 percent deposit.

That was enough leeway to allow Cruz to be released, and he was able to meet the bond conditions Monday, Dec. 29. He was set free pending trial.