Police Don’t Believe Anthony Sanchez Was Shot By Accident

The story Nilson Maldonado told police about how Anthony Sanchez died was that he’d found Sanchez outside Maldonado’s girlfriend’s apartment, crawling and convulsing on the ground, as if on drugs, and took him to Washington MedStar hospital. To friends, Maldonado said he shot Sanchez by accident, while they wrestled over a gun.

Police believe, however, that Maldonado simply “pointed a gun at Anthony Sanchez and fired, in conscious disregard at an extreme risk of death or serious bodily injury,” charging documents say.

Maldonado is charged with second-degree murder while armed. Judge Karen Howze ordered him released under high-intensity supervision Thursday, pending a preliminary hearing on July 18.

When police searched the area where Maldonado first said he found Sanchez, on a sidewalk outside a Columbia Heights apartment, they found no blood or other evidence of a shooting, according to charging documents.

Witnesses later told police that Sanchez had been inside the apartment, watching a soccer game with Maldonado and two other friends. (One, Victor Bonilla, is named throughout the complaint but not referred to as a witness.) Sanchez spent much of the game “playing with” a handgun, documents say; he would unload it and load it, until someone told him to stop.

Police believe Sanchez was shot sometime after 1 a.m., based on a witness account. That witness, who had been watching the game earlier, recalled being woken up by Maldondo and Bonilla, and finding Sanchez sitting in the same love seat, with a gunshot wound to the chest. The witness told Maldonado to take Sanchez to the hospital.

Maldonado and Bonilla told friends (including the witness in the apartment) that Maldonado tried to take the gun from Sanchez, they struggled, and the gun went off. They repeated this story to several people over the days and weeks after Sanchez died.

Dr. Lois Goslinoski, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Sanchez, told police that evidence doesn’t support this story, according to charging documents. She said a gun fired at close range, as during a struggle, would leave burn marks and stippling around the entry wound. She found none of that.

Further, there was “marginal abrasion” around the exit wound, and a bloodstain on the love seat where Sanchez had been sitting during the soccer game. That lead detectives to believe he was sitting when he was shot, not fighting over a gun, the criminal complaint says.

Police arrested Maldonado on July 2, nearly a year after Sanchez’s death.

Read the full criminal complain below:

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