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March 23, 2013
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Carson City man bound over to district court in alleged murder of 19-year-old Carson mother

A Carson City man accused of the murder of a 19-year-old Carson City mother and the attempted murder of her fiancé was bound over to district court Friday afternoon.

Leonardo Cardoza, 27, will appear in district court April 2 to be arraigned on the two charges, open murder with a deadly weapon and attempted murder with a deadly weapon.

Open murder means the jury will have to decide, if it finds Cardoza guilty, whether he had committed murder 1 ­­­­— premeditated murder ­­— or non-premeditated murder. Penalties for murder 1 are more severe.

The prosecution alleges Cardoza tailgated Desiree Bragg and her fiance, Steven Castro, 19, from the AMPM in the 2700 block of U.S. Highway 50 until he used his car to ram her into the side of her mother’s house the night of Jan. 26.

Justice of the Peace John Tatro heard testimony from Castro, mapping out the alleged tailgating.

Cardoza, driving a silver-colored minivan, began tailgating Bragg and Castro when they entered the Interstate 580 bypass, Castro said in court.

“We could see his lights in our face,” he said.

By the time the couple had hit the off-ramp, Bragg was getting anxious, Castro said.

“Desiree started to get nervous. I told her to keep driving,” he said.

When they got onto the off-ramp, Bragg put her open hand up, visible through the closed windows, Castro said.

“He came off the side of the ramp,” he said.

Bragg continued to drive to her mother’s house off College Parkway and honked her horn at the entrance to the street. Cardoza returned the honk, Castro and Bragg’s brother John testified.

Castro exited the car and walked around the front, and Bragg opened her door when Castro was on her side.

“I was scared,” he said.

“He (Cardoza) backed the car up. He came flying at both of us.”

Castro said he attempted to push Bragg out of the way of the oncoming minivan and dove himself.

“It happened so fast. He threw it into drive and punched the gas,” Castro said.

Castro said he grabbed the table leg Bragg kept in her car and went up to the driver’s side of the minivan. Cardoza opened the door, nearly coming out on top of Castro, and Castro hit him with the table leg, he said.

John Bragg was in the house and said he heard a horn honk two or three times, followed by a long honk.

“Ten to 15 seconds later, I felt and heard the house shake,” John Bragg said.

He and his mother went outside. He saw the silver-colored minivan on the lawn.

“Desiree was on the ground, screaming in pain, knees to her chest,” he said.

The minivan drove down the street and crashed into a fence, and Cardoza came “back up the street toward us, running, stumbling, trying to pick himself up,” Castro said.

Around town

Two bartenders testified that they had served Cardoza earlier in the night, the first about 7:30 p.m. at the Blue Bull.

Rachele Eisenhour said said she served him a pint of Guinness, replacing one he had finished. By 8 p.m., he was gone.

At Jimmy G’s Cigar Bar, he was served two drinks and left shortly after 8:30 p.m., the server testified.

After the incident, Cardoza told detectives that he went to Bully’s to have a sandwich and ordered a large beer, followed by two more, and that while he was waiting, two white men came into the bar and made a challenging gesture toward him.

Bully’s manager Todd Bachman said he went through the restaurant’s video footage and saw no trace of Cardoza, and found no receipts for the sandwich and beer.

“He came flying at both of us.”
— Steven Castro


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The Nevada Appeal Updated Mar 23, 2013 02:28AM Published Apr 7, 2013 01:44AM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.