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Man held on $2 million in strangulation deaths of woman, 5-year-old girl

UPDATED: Wed., July 9, 2014, 3:58 p.m.

The man accused of strangling a woman and young girl in his Post Falls apartment Tuesday had removed his own two children from the household before returning to commit the killings, a prosecutor said today.

Angel Albertico Morales-Larranaga, 24, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Facunda Velenzuelaleon and her 5-year-old daughter, Dayanna M. Valencia, in the apartment he shared with them. He is being held on $2 million bail.

Morales-Larranaga was arrested Tuesday after allegedly telling a friend he had strangled his wife and daughter, Post Falls police said. Investigators believe he was married to Velenzuelaleon, but he is not the girl’s father.

Morales-Larranaga made his first court appearance this afternoon. Appearing via a video feed from jail, he wore a sleeveless black shirt, spoke through an interpreter and sat next to his court-appointed attorney. He said he understood the charges and the potential sentence of the death penalty or life in prison. Morales-Larranaga made no other statement.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh recommended bail of $2 million, and 1st District Magistrate Judge Barry Watson agreed. The killings were “personal and sensitive” because of the relationships and the manner of death, McHugh said.

“We believe the aggravating nature of the crimes justifies the bail,” he said.

Morales-Larranaga took his two children away the apartment, then returned to strangle the woman and girl, McHugh told the judge. The killings took place at Tullamore Commons, an apartment complex at 4172 E. Laurelbrook on the city’s north side.

Morales-Larranaga then allegedly went to a friend’s house in Post Falls and told her what he had done. That woman called the police, and officers apprehended the defendant driving away from that house.

A preliminary hearing for Morales-Larranaga will be held within 14 days.


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