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Armando Cuadras

A man accused of murdering a 94-year-old Yuba City woman in 2013 appeared in court Friday.

Armando Aryas Cuadras, 30, was arrested in April after a new DNA analysis process determined his DNA was found on evidence resubmitted at the request of the Department of Justice. He’s been charged with first-degree murder, torture, aggravated mayhem, and first-degree burglary, which he pleaded not guilty to at his arraignment in April.

Cuadras appeared in Sutter County Superior Court Friday for a pre-preliminary hearing and setting. His attorney’s request to continue the matter was granted. His next appearance is scheduled for Sept. 25.

Leola Shreves’ body was found Jan. 23, 2013, face-down in her Park Avenue home near her bed with obvious signs of trauma to the back of her head, according to Appeal-Democrat archives. Detectives believe Shreves died days earlier. An autopsy determined she had been beaten “over a sustained period of time.” Medical examiners found evidence of strangulation and said Shreves suffered numerous injuries to her sternum, back, ribs, neck, jaw, facial bones and skull fractures, according to court documents.

The arrest was historic for forensics — it was the first time a female relative, who has a criminal record and had DNA in the national database, was used to compare DNA markers to sunflower seeds investigators collected from Cuadras, according to Appeal-Democrat archives. 

Cuadras’ arrest was also notable in that he wasn’t the first to be arrested for the crime: then-20-year-old Michael Alexander, a neighbor, was initially arrested and charged with the murder based on a now-recanted confession. Blood and DNA samples from the scene were never matched to Alexander, according to archives. 

Alexander remained in Sutter County Jail for three years before the case against him was dropped in 2016 for lack of evidence. 

In 2017, he sued Sutter County for $10 million, alleging they violating his rights and that he was tricked into confessing. Last spring, he settled for $50,000.

Cuadras remains in Sutter County Jail with no bail.

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