Over some objections, Mobile County District Judge George Hardesty set bonds last week for two defendants accused of killing a man who police found stabbed, shot, bound and buried in the backyard of a house on Marcus Drive last month.
The body of 21-year-old Tracie Dennis was located by investigators from the Mobile Police Department’s homicide unit on Dec. 21. It was excavated from a shallow grave in the backyard of a home owned by David Manuel Cordero Hernandez, 32, and shared by Marcos Javier Morales Oslan, 21.
At the time, Hernandez and Oslan were being extradited from Jacksonville, Florida, where they had fled following Dennis’s death. During a bond hearing on Jan. 2, prosecutors said the evidence indicates Oslan shot Dennis, but they believe Hernandez helped with other aspects of the murder.
“The victim’s hands and feet were bound when the body was found. There’s not a reason to bind the hands and feet of someone once they’re dead,” Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood told reporters after the bond hearing. “We believe there were some things that led up to the victim being killed.”
Blackwood said it’s “reasonable” to assume, based on the evidence, Dennis’s hands and feet were bound before he was stabbed seven times and fatally shot in the head and shoulder.
In court, investigators and Hernandez’s attorney, Domingo Soto, agreed that whatever happened before Dennis was killed on Dec. 16, the incident began over money he was owed for subcontracting work he’d performed for Hernandez’s construction business. It seems the amount owed was around $380.
Soto said Hernandez, who is originally from Puerto Rico, has lived in Mobile since 2016 and had recently hired Oslan and taken him into his home because he was having some “issues” back in Puerto Rico. He maintained that his client did nothing wrong except fleeing to Florida after Dennis was killed.
Soto acknowledged his client exchanged “some heated words” with Dennis, but claims Hernandez believed everything had been settled until Oslan and Dennis got into another altercation outside.
“He didn’t know [Oslan] had a gun,” Soto said in court. “My understanding is that when they were questioned in Jacksonville, [Oslan] confessed and took the blame for everything.”
Prosecutors disputed that characterization and the version of events Soto presented. Blackwood said he couldn’t expand on why the state believes Oslan was the one who fired the shots that ultimately killed Dennis, but still accused Hernandez of being directly involved with other aspects of the slaying.
The state alleges both men participated in burying Dennis’s body in Hernandez’s backyard and then spraying chemicals in the same area in an attempt to mask any odor of decomposition from cadaver dogs.
Oslan was not represented by an attorney at his bond hearing, though Hardesty did appoint a lawyer to take his case ahead of an arraignment scheduled later this month. The court also made a special consideration to find a bilingual attorney because Oslan does not speak English.
Oslan and Hernandez are charged with murder and both were granted respective bonds of $250,000 and $150,000 by Hardesty. The state had requested both men be held on at least $250,000 bonds and also expressed concerns about the men possibly being flight risks because they had previously fled the state.
Jail records indicate neither has met their bond so far, and if released, they’ll both be required to wear electronic monitoring devices and will be subject to home confinement. That could be tricky for Oslan, who public records suggest is homeless.
However, Blackwood said it’s unlikely Oslan would be able to cover his $250,000 bond.
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