River shooter pleads guilty to attempted murder | NevadaAppeal.com

River shooter pleads guilty to attempted murder

by F.T. Norton
ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com

A Carson City man pleaded guilty Monday in district court to the attempted murder of a woman he shot and left for dead at the Carson River in June.

Miguel Barajas-Zarate, 31, faces two to 20 years in prison when sentenced Feb. 1. In exchange for the plea, a deadly weapon enhancement was dropped.

According to police reports, on June 12, Barajas-Zarate shot Ashley Fortune, 21, in the stomach and then beat her with a rock in retaliation for an alleged theft. He left her for dead alongside the river at the end of Brunswick Canyon Road in East Carson City. Fortune was found two hours later, alive, bloodied and struggling to crawl out of the brush by a passerby.

Barajas-Zarate fled in Fortune’s vehicle, which he discarded in the parking lot of the old K-Mart on North Carson Street. He then made his way to Reno where he caught a Greyhound Bus to Wenatchee, Wash., where his brother lives.

Carson City detectives went to Washington in the hunt for Barajas-Zarate. After telling migrant workers in a cherry orchard of a reward for Barajas-Zarate’s arrest, a tip came in to Secret Witness that the suspect was in the orchard.

He was arrested after officers stopped a vehicle driven by Barajas-Zarate’s brother and they found Barajas-Zarate hunkered down in the back seat, said Gonzales.

Also in court on Monday, a Carson City couple accused of neglecting the man’s 14-year-old disabled nephew were given a fine and sentenced to time served.

Lorraine Bowers, 46, and her husband James, 48, pleaded guilty in August to gross misdemeanor child neglect and endangerment.

The couple was arrested in April after Christopher Schmerber, James’ nephew, was hospitalized in critical condition with Stage IV bedsores.

Stage IV is the most severe stage of bed sores, with serious skin loss and damage to muscle, bone and joints. Stage IV bed sores are extremely difficult to heal and are often complicated by infection, which can be lethal, according to MayoClinic.com.

Assistant District Attorney Gerald Gardner said the sores will cause a lifetime of treatment, for Christopher, now 15.

Christopher, who is autistic, became a triplegic after his mother, Tamara Schmerber, shot his father to death and then shot Christopher, then 9, twice in the back before killing herself. The family had been struggling with finances in the months leading up to the shootings.