Northampton man charged with murder expected in court

Hampshire County

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A Northampton man is expected to plead guilty Tuesday in connection with the murder of 44-year-old Daniel Cruz and the burning of his body.

Twenty-four-year-old Nerkin Morales, the man charged with the murder of 44-year-old Daniel Cruz, is the only one who is charged with murder.

Cruz’s body was found burning in a field in Hatfield back in March of 2018 after a nearby resident called 911 to report a fire. 

Northwestern District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Mary Carey said Morales allegedly shot Cruz three times during an altercation at an apartment complex in Northampton on the morning of March 10, 2018.

Carey said Morales then allegedly involved seven others who “actively conspired and worked in concert to conceal the murder.”

The group of eight people are accused of cleaning blood from the crime scene, disposing of the clothes Morales wore during the alleged murder, hiding the weapon, and concealing Cruz’s body until nighttime when it was allegedly set on fire. 

The following people allegedly involved: 

  • Nerkin Omar Morales, 22, of Northampton; Murder, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding, Conspiracy (two counts), Improper Disposition of a Human Body, Intimidation of a Witness, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm as an Armed Career Criminal, Use of a Firearm in a Felony, and Discharging a Firearm within 500 Feet of a Dwelling
  • Pedro J. Soto-Rodriguez, 21, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding (two counts), Conspiracy (two counts), Improper Disposition of a Human Body, and Intimidation of a Witness
  • Mercedes N. Diaz-Wright, 22, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding (two counts), Conspiracy (two counts), Improper Disposition of a Human Body, Intimidation of a Witness, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of Ammunition without Identification Card, Misleading a Police Officer, and Subornation of Perjury.
  • Alondra E. Gil (still being sought by police), 23, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding, Conspiracy (two counts), and Improper Disposition of a Human Body
  • Chelsea T. Rodriguez (still being sought by police), 22, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding (two counts), Conspiracy (two counts), and Improper Disposition of a Human Body.
  • Kimberly A. Perez, 26, of Springfield; Accessory After the Fact, Burning Personal  Property, Withhold Evidence from Criminal Proceeding, Conspiracy (two counts), and Improper Disposition of a Human Body.
  • Matthew M. Ross, 24, of Northampton; Accessory After the Fact
  • Joshua T. Ealy, 20, of Northampton; Perjury

MAP: Hampshire County Superior Court

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