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Bridges sentenced for 2014 Murder - KOAM TV 7

Bridges sentenced for 2014 Murder

Updated:
Bryan Bridges Bryan Bridges
Juan Salas-Rueda Juan Salas-Rueda
PITTSBURG, KANSAS -

1/9/2017:  Bryan Bridges sentenced to life with possibility of parole after 25 years for his role in the murder of Taylor Thomas in October 2014. 

11/18/2016: Bryan Bridges pleaded no contest to first degree murder. The judge found him guilty. The only possible sentence is life in prison w/o possibility of parole for 25 years. Darius Rainey, the fourth suspect, stands trial in February for first degree murder. 

7/29/2016: According to court proceedings, Bryan Bridges was bound over for trial on 7/28/2016. The trial is set to begin on November 28th. 

7/21/2016: Juan Salas-Rueda was sentenced to five years and one month in prison for aggravated robbery. According to Crawford County Attorney, deportation is expected after serving prison time. 

3/7/2016: According to District Attorney Michael Gayoso Bryan Bridges first appearance via video 1:30pm in Girard.  We did not get pool cam because of late notice.  The video system is in the jury room which is very small.  

CHARGES
1-FIRST DEGREE MURDER 
2- AGGRIVATED KIDNAPPING (FELONY LEVEL 1)
3-AGGRIVATED ROBBERY (FELONY LEVEL 3)
4- CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT AGGRIVATED ROBBERY (FELONY LEVEL 5)
5-AGGRIVATED BURGLARY (FELONY LEVEL 5)
6-CONSPIRACY TO AGGRIVATED BURGLARY (FELONY LEVEL 7)

NEXT COURT DATE APRIL 20TH AT 9 AM
20 MILLION DOLLAR CASH ONLY BOND BC FLIGHT RISK SINCE FOUND IN MEXICO
# # #

Mexican authorities arrest one of Kansas' most wanted fugitives, Bryan Bridges, in Juarez, Mexico, at approximately 9 p.m. Sunday.

16 months ago, Taylor Thomas was murdered in his home.

Police believe three men, including Bridges, mistook Thomas for his roommate Joseph Otter (who has since been arrested for drug-related crimes), then robbed and murdered him. 
 
It wasn't long ago Lt. Ben Henderson of the Pittsburg Police Department was unsure when Bryan Bridges would face a judge for the murder of Thomas.

"Concern of just how long it would take," Henderson said. "How many potential years it would be before we found him."

Over the past 16 months local authorities had taken a back seat on the hunt for Bridges. 

READ THIS: Suspects Court Proceedings

"Early on it was decided to try to bring the U.S. Marshal Service in to help with this issue," Henderson said. "Identify any potential leads that might be outside our geographic area."

"We believe [Bridges] was receiving assistance from individuals. And law enforcement will continue to investigate those claims," Crawford County Attorney Michael Gayoso said. 

Now Bridges; accused of first degree murder, aggravated burglary, and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery; could be in court as early as next week. 

"It's certainly not a concluded investigation. There's still a lot of work that needs to be tied up," according to Maj. Brent Narges of the Pittsburg Police Department. 

Gayoso says Bridges' absence has not hindered the case against the four co-defendants, and shouldn't effect future proceedings. Though authorities hope Bridges can help strengthen the investigation. 

"Things such as additional interviews," Narges said. "Lab tests, things of that nature."

"There is some evidence and stuff that we are potentially hoping that we can have final confirmation of relevant to his DNA and everything," Henderson said. 

Authorities are unsure how long bridges was in Mexico, believing he traveled throughout central U.S. Including Springfield, MO, and Denver, CO. The U.S. Marshals Service said an informant tipped the address in Mexico Bridges was located, where he was spotted and arrested. 

"Everyone is extremely pleased with Bryan Bridges' capture including Taylor Thomas' family," Gayoso said. "They're relieved. This has been a long time coming."

Gayoso said bridges will be in front of a judge for the first time, just 48 hours after processing at the Crawford County Jail. 

***Correction***

A previous version of this story said five men entered Taylor Thomas' home. Police believe only three did. Juan Salas-Rueda is charged with aiding and abetting. Tyler Smith was convicted for conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery. 

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