Goodyear cold case murder solved; suspect gets 11 years in prison

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – A man who admitted to fatally shooting his girlfriend a decade ago has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The body of Maria Barajas, 27, of Mexico, was discovered on a construction road in an undeveloped neighborhood in the area of Estrella Parkway and Van Buren Street in Goodyear on March 16, 2004.

Police said Barajas had been shot in the head.

The medical examiner's office determined the cause of death to be homicide.

The crime went unsolved until a Goodyear police detective reopened the cold case.

Police spokeswoman Lisa Kutis said new evidence was submitted to the Department of Public Safety crime lab, which generated a profile of the suspect. In 2012, the crime lab received a hit on the FBI DNA database from the U.S. Border Patrol in Douglas.

The Goodyear Police Department was contacted by U.S. Border Patrol and learned that Narcizo Yepiz-Urrea had been detained in connection with alleged drug transporting. During his detention, he admitted to agents that he had shot and killed his girlfriend in 2004.

Last month, Yepiz-Urrea pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and domestic violence.