Defendant in Sanaa Amenhotep murder case admitted to her role in the killing; state witness testifies on day 4 of the trial
LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) - Jurors heard from a crucial state witness on day four of the trial of a Lexington County teen charged in the 2021 killing of 15-year-old Sanaa Amenhotep.
Nazareth Sanchez-Peralta, who goes by Nicolle, is being tried as an adult.
Prosecutors say she and two others kidnapped Amenhotep from her Columbia home on the evening of April 5, 2021, took her to a wooded area in Leesville, and murdered her.
Allon Adams took the stand on Friday as the state’s 18th witness.
He is a friend of Treveon Nelson, a co-defendant in the case and Sanchez-Peralta’s boyfriend.
Adams testified that Sanchez-Peralta admitted to him after the murder that she, Nelson, and a third individual killed Amenhotep.
Adams said that Sanchez-Peralta told him all this in a Snapchat video call.
Sanchez-Peralta described to Adams her role in the scheme, which was to lure a girl that she referred to as her “best friend” into a stolen Toyota Camry.
She went on to detail how she and the two other teens beat Amenhotep and shot her, Adams said.
When Sanchez-Peralta recounted this story, Adams testified that she showed no remorse or concern for Amenhotep.
Adams alleges that Sanchez-Peralta told him the reasoning behind this was that Nelson’s home had been leading up to the slaying, and all three co-defendants suspected that Amenhotep’s boyfriend was involved.
They questioned Amenhotep about it, and she would not answer, which is when things turned violent, Adams testified.
After speaking with Sanchez-Peralta, Adams confronted Nelson about what she had told him.
Nelson eventually admitted to Adams his role in the murder.
Adams details all of this in a recorded interview after his arrest on separate charges on April 30, 2021.
Police had his grandmother go into the interview room and speak with him after he initially said he did not want to talk about the case.
The defense, on cross-examination, sought to damage Adams’ credibility as a witness and questioned his motivation for coming forward.
Defense attorney Sarah Mauldin also pointed out inconsistencies in his story. At one point Adams tells police that three, four, or five people were involved in the killing.
Presiding Judge Debra McCaslin ruled in favor of the state Friday, allowing prosecutors to redact a portion of Adams’ interview, which they had argued could be prejudicial to the jury.
Earlier testimony on Friday focused on DNA evidence, which was taken from the crime scene where Amenhotep’s body was located and the stolen Camry the defendant admitted to investigators was used to kidnap Amenhotep.
DNA samples were also taken from two firearms found at the home of a co-defendant.
The state’s DNA analyst, Detective John Barron with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, revealed that a hair found inside the Camry was found to be a match for Sanchez-Peralta, DNA from Nelson was found on one of the car doors, and DNA on the guns recovered matched that of a third co-defendant.
On cross-examination of Barron, the defense established that there was unknown DNA in some of these mixtures, and suggested that prosecutors could have possibly overlooked other potential suspects.
No DNA was recovered from shell casings or projectiles found at the scene.
Testimony will resume on Monday.
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