Q: What happened to the three men convicted of murdering a girl at Discovery Park in the 1980s? I believe one of the men was named John Muzquiz.
Jesus Martinez, Sacramento
A: Three men were tried for the murder of 25-year-old Renee Armstrong, whose body was found June 11, 1988, floating in the American River near the east end of the Jibboom Street Bridge.
According to stories in The Sacramento Bee, John Daniel Muzquiz, Guillermo Martin Gutierrez and Richard Anthony Cruz picked up Armstrong, a prostitute, at a Northgate Boulevard bar and took her to a spot under Interstate 5 at Discovery Park, where they had sex with her. Muzquiz then began stabbing Armstrong in the back with a screwdriver. During the attack, he directed Cruz, who was 16 years old at the time, to get a hammer from the car and hit her in the head. Cruz testified that he struck one light blow before Muzquiz took the hammer away from him and finished the job.
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A witness testified during a preliminary hearing that the three men went to Muzquiz’s sister’s home after the slaying and were “laughing and giggling” about what they had done. They reportedly split the $15 they had taken from Armstrong.
A jury found Muzquiz and Cruz guilty of first-degree murder and convicted Gutierrez, who apparently was not directly involved in the slaying, of being an accessory to a felony.
Muzquiz was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison and Cruz to 26 years to life prison. Gutierrez received a three-year sentence.
Muzquiz, now 50 years old, is at California State Prison, Corcoran. Cruz, 45, is at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla.