Charges: 32-year-old fatally beat man, says victim was ‘contaminated’

A 32-year-old Thief River Falls man has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of third-degree assault in connection with a homicide Tuesday.

Jorge Luis Benitez-Estremera is in custody at Pennington County Jail and made his first court appearance Friday. According to an online jail roster, he was arrested Wednesday.

Pennington County Dispatch received a call about a man on the ground not breathing around 10:12 p.m. Tuesday at Digi-Key, a business on Brooks Avenue South. A deputy was the first to the scene and tried to help the victim but realized that he was deceased, according to a criminal complaint.

Officers saw blood coming from the victim’s head and a sign lying across his legs. There was blood on the sign, court documents say.

A short time later, an investigator found articles of clothing that appeared to have blood on them in a nearby garbage can.

Authorities then began reviewing Digi-Key surveillance footage.

The victim is shown on surveillance smoking in the parking lot when he is attacked by a man, later identified as Benitez-Estremera, according to the criminal complaint.

He is seen on video punching and kicking the victim. He was also seen slamming the victim’s head into a car’s windshield and hitting the victim with a sign.

Court officials note that the victim never acted aggressively towards Benitez-Estremera.

The altercation lasted just over three minutes.

After the violent assault, Benitez-Estremera is seen getting into his car. When he gets out of his car, he is seen wearing a different shirt with a towel wrapped around his waist.

According to court documents, he is then seen on surveillance throwing away the clothes he was wearing during the assault. The clothes matched the items found in the garbage by officers.

Around 10 minutes later, a woman leaves Digi-Key and gets into Benitez-Estremera’s car and the two leave.

Around 12:17 a.m. on Wednesday, officers found the car from the surveillance video at an apartment complex. When officers went to the apartment associated with that parking spot, they knocked on the door, but there was no answer.

Officers entered the apartment and found Benitez-Estremera and his girlfriend. Benitez-Estremera was arrested, and his girlfriend was interviewed, court officials said.

The woman told police that Benitez-Estremera picked her up from work and wasn’t wearing pants. He told her that he had gotten into a fight and punched someone. The woman told police that she didn’t see the altercation.

Later, Benitez-Estremera admitted to assaulting someone at Digi-Key. He told police that the victim was “contaminated and needed to be taken out of the system.” According to court documents, he also stated that he didn’t know the victim and wasn’t afraid of him.