Day 2 of trial for teen charged in murder of Sanaa Amenhotep focuses on defendant’s inconsistencies

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Published: May. 17, 2023 at 8:21 PM EDT

LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) - Testimony continued on Wednesday in the trial of Nazareth “Nicolle” Sanchez-Peralta, accused of killing Sanaa Amenhotep, a Richland County 15-year-old, in April 2021.

Prosecutors say that she and two others kidnapped and murdered Amenhotep.

On day two of witness testimony, the state called multiple investigators, seeking to highlight inconsistencies with what Sanchez-Peralta told them about her whereabouts on the night of the killing, and in the days after.

The defense argued that while the other two co-defendants in this case were not cooperating, Sanchez-Peralta is the one who brought the frantic search for Amenhotep to a close, 22 days after her disappearance.

The first witness to take the stand on Wednesday was Detective Pedro Carvajal with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

He interviewed Sanchez-Peralta several times following Amenhotep’s killing.

When Carvajal began speaking with Sanchez-Peralta, she was not seen as a suspect, but as a witness to the graphic scene and someone who was cooperating with investigators.

On April 27, 2021, Carvajal drove Sanchez-Peralta to a rural country road in Leesville, after she indicated that she had taken part in a scheme to lure Amenhotep out of her home the day of her murder.

Sanchez-Peralta claimed she was unable to locate Amenhotep’s body, however.

She initially told investigator Kevin Baum with LCSD that she was not present as Amenhotep’s body was being buried, as well.

On separate occasions, Sanchez-Peralta said that the Toyota Camry she stole was not used to kidnap Amenhotep from her home at the Windsor Lake Apartments in Richland County.

She later admits that it was the vehicle that was used.

On April 28, Carvajal conducts a second interview with Sanchez-Peralta.

He is pleading with her to help him get Amenhotep’s body back.

At one point, Sanchez-Peralta starts crying and leads investigators to the crime scene.

She continues to maintain her innocence in connection with Amenhotep’s slaying.

Jurors viewed body camera footage from this search in the courtroom.

In another interview, Sanchez-Peralta told Baum that her boyfriend, Treveon Nelson, who is also charged in the case, held her captive at his home for about a week after the murder.

However, Snapchat records presented as evidence Wednesday show the two of them together at a hotel during this time period.

Sanchez-Peralta was read her Miranda rights during this interview.

Prosecutors called David “Gotto” Gaskins, a friend of Nelson’s, to the stand in the afternoon.

Nelson exchanged messages with Gaskins on Facebook at around 12:55 A.M. the night of Amenhotep’s murder, asking him for a shovel.

Gaskins testified that he was not home that evening, and when he returned, one of his shovels was missing. He never gave Nelson permission to take one, he said.

Gaskins described the relationship between Nelson and Sanchez-Peralta as “like Bonnie and Clyde.”

The state also sought to cast doubt on a defense theory that Sanchez-Peralta is a victim here as well because she was afraid of Nelson.

Gaskins testified that Sanchez-Peralta never appeared to be threatened by him, however.

On cross-examination of Gaskins, defense attorney Sarah Mauldin sought to damage his credibility and established that he could not remember his exact whereabouts on the night of the killing.

At various points throughout the day’s testimony, defense attorneys for Sanchez-Peralta attempted to poke holes in the investigation and suggested other possible suspects who may have been overlooked.

Mauldin questioned why Baum’s supplemental was completed at a later date.

He explained that it is customary to do that, as he is often working on at least 30 cases at a time. Baum said that he takes notes and reviews his interviews.

Testimony concluded Wednesday with Brandon Miller, an LCSD supervisor, who described two guns found at a co-defendant’s home that matched those used in the killing.

The defense, on cross-examination, established that neither of those weapons was Sanchez-Peralta’s.

Court resumes at 9:30 A.M. on Thursday.

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