Manhattan Man Charged With Vehicular Homicide
On Sunday, October 6 at approximately 7:45 p.m., a man was reported missing in Manhattan. Montana.
Family members reported that the man went out for a walk in the area of 4570 Stagecoach Trail Road and had not returned.
Approximately 40 minutes prior, Manhattan resident Michael Moreno called law enforcement to report a carjacking. Moreno reported that he and a friend, Daniel Sifuentes, had been driving around together in Moreno's car when another unknown man took the car at gunpoint.
Moreno was detained and during questioning under Miranda ultimately admitted that the carjacking report was false. Moreno stated that he and the defendant had been drinking alcohol together Sunday afternoon since getting off work around 1:00 p.m.
Moreno stated that he was "drunk" and driving his vehicle toward Manhattan from the area of Huffine Lane with Sifuentes riding in the passenger seat. Moreno reported that he had struck a man with his vehicle while the man was walking down the side of the road.
First responders located the victim deceased on the side of Stagecoach Trail Road, west of Heeb Road.
Moreno stated that he and the victim did not stop and check on the victim after striking him with his vehicle. Moreno stated that they pulled over a short time after and he threw some personal items and beer cans out of his car.
Moreno and Sifuentes got back into the car and drove the car to a storage facility, where they abandoned the heavily damaged car and returned to Moreno's Manhattan residence on foot.
Moreno stated that he and Sifuentes collaborated on the carjacking story in an effort to avoid responsibility for striking the victim. When deputies responded to the carjacking report, Sifuentes and Moreno both provided statements independently that they had been carjacked at gunpoint. Detectives later interviewed Moreno's daughter, who was present when Moreno and Sifuentes returned to the Manhattan residence after abandoning the vehicle at a storage facility. Moreno's daughter reported that while the two men were waiting for deputies to respond, it seemed to her that the two men were practicing a story rather than talking about the event that had actually occurred.
Moreno also stated to detectives that Sifuentes had made numerous phone calls after the incident, working on getting the two men "rides out of town." Detectives attempted to interview Sifuentesbut he invoked his right to counsel. Detectives noted injuries on Sifuentes' face consistent with auto glass shattering and blood on his shirt and pants.
The suspect vehicle was located by deputies at a storage unit facility outside of Manhattan. The vehicle had significant frond end damage, a shattered windshield, and a severely dented roof.
Moreno and Sifuentes were booked into the Gallatin County Detention Center.
Moreno is charged with vehicular homicide while under the influence and Sifuentes is charged with obstructing justice.
Bail for Moreno was set at $100,000 Monday in Gallatin County Justice Court. Sifuentes’ bail was set at $25,000.