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California Woman Allegedly Gunned Down Her Sister and Newborn Niece in Killings Motivated by ‘Jealousy and Sibling Rivalry’: Police

Yanelly Soloria-Rivera and Martin Arroyo-Morales

Yanelly Soloria-Rivera and Martin Arroyo-Morales

A 22-year-old woman in California was arrested for allegedly fatally shooting her 18-year-old sister and her 3-week-old niece. Yarelly Solorio-Rivera was taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of Yanelly Soloria-Rivera and her newborn daughter Celine Soloria-Rivera, authorities announced.

Yarelly’s boyfriend, 26-year-old Martin Arroyo-Morales, was also arrested and charged with two counts of premeditated murder in connection with the shooting. Police have described Arroyo-Morales as a “validated gang member.”

“We can now say with complete certainty that we have those responsible for this homicide in custody,” Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said during a Thursday afternoon press conference announcing the arrests.

According to a press release from the department, officers from the Southwest Policing District at approximately 7:20 a.m. on September 24 responded to an emergency call about multiple gunshots being fired inside of a residence located in the 2500 block of South Fruit Avenue. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders discovered Yanelly and Celine inside the bedroom unresponsive and suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper body. Unfortunately, both were unable to survive their injuries and were pronounced deceased on scene by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel.

Chief Balderrama said that the new mother was asleep while holding her infant daughter at the time they were shot in a “premeditated and intricately planned” killing.

“The murder scene was dramatic for all officers, detectives, EMS personnel, and crime scene technicians who responded to the scene,” Balderrama said. “The crime left us all feeling perplexed and very angry, asking ourselves, who would do something like this – who would murder an 18-year-old mother and her 3-week-old daughter while they slept?”

Early in the investigation, authorities had suspicions that Yarelly and her boyfriend had something to do with the double-homicide, but were unable to collect sufficient evidence for an arrest, the chief said. Following their arrests, both suspects allegedly confessed to the murders, led investigators to the location of the murder weapon, and provided an explanation as to why Yarelly allegedly wanted her younger sister dead.

“We have the murder weapon – a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun – and we have a motive – jealousy and sibling rivalry,” Balderrama said.

He later added, “We saw no remorse whatsoever,” from the suspects after their alleged confessions.

The big break in the case came last week, when investigators were able to positively identify Arroyo-Morales in surveillance footage believed to show one of the people involved in the murders walking in the area around the home where Yanelly and Celine were killed.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp also spoke at the press conference and confirmed that the murder charges against both suspects will be filed with special circumstances for multiple victims, meaning prosecutors may be able to seek the death penalty.

“With special circumstances murder brings the opportunity for very significant penalties. In this case, the special circumstances murder brings about the penalty of life without the possibility of parole or the potential of the death penalty,” Smittcamp said. “Those decisions will be made as the case progresses through the court system.”

Smittcamp also referred to the double-homicide as a “horrendous crime” that affected the entire community.

Both suspects were arrested and booked into the Fresno County Jail where they are being held on $2 million bond. They will be arraigned in county superior court early next week.

Watch the full press conference below.

[images via Fresno Police Department]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.