The man arrested following a deadly altercation outside a Nogales smoke shop last week was ordered released on his own recognizance Thursday morning.
Daniel Navarro, 31, of Nogales, was booked into the Santa Cruz County jail on Feb. 14 on a second-degree murder charge stemming from the death of Hansel Aleman, also 31, of Rio Rico.
However, Deputy County Attorney Liliana Ortega told a justice of the peace that there wasn’t enough evidence as of Thursday morning to go forward with formal criminal charges against Navarro.
“The autopsy was done a couple of days ago, and at the time, the medical examiner was not able, and has not been able, to establish neither the manner of death or the cause of death,” Ortega told Justice of the Peace Emilio Velasquez, adding: “We’re going to need that information before we decide if criminal charges are warranted.”
About 10 family members and friends present in the court in support of Navarro let out sighs of relief as Velasquez announced his immediate release.
Navarro, still dressed in a white-and-orange-striped jail uniform, thanked Velasquez for his release.
“Since there’s no complaint filed, what will happen is they will be sending a summons to your home, indicating if there is going to be a date and time of your next hearing,” Velasquez told him. “Make sure you show up to that hearing. Otherwise, I will issue a warrant.”
Navarro was arrested after the Nogales Police Department responded to the Silver Clouds Smoke Shop at 411 North Grand Ave. on the night of Feb. 14 after receiving a report of an altercation.
An NPD dispatch report from that evening shows a call coming in at 9:43 p.m. in which the caller reported seeing “a group of people hitting one person.” The caller also reported seeing two vehicles, but couldn’t identify their makes.
After police responded to the scene, the Nogales Fire Department transported Aleman to Holy Cross Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 10 p.m.
NPD Lt. Robert Thompson told the NI on the day after Aleman’s death that there were no weapons involved. He said police interviewed two witnesses at the scene who were not involved in the fight, and had taken multiple cell phones and vehicles into custody as part of the investigation.
Authorities have not released any additional information about the incident, including the circumstances that led them to arrest Navarro. The arresting officer wrote on a booking form that “Daniel was involved in a physical altercation that caused the death of the other male subject involved.”
A spokeswoman for the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District said that Navarro is currently employed at the district as an agriculture technician and assistant athletic coach. In recent years, he’s served as an assistant coach for the Rio Rico High School football team.
SCVUSD “will follow district policy in regards to future employment,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
Aleman had previously identified himself to the NI as the co-owner of the Silver Clouds Smoke Shop.
Adair’s Carroon Mortuary in Nogales said a visitation for Aleman was planned for Thursday evening, to be followed by a memorial service on Friday.