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DA: Suspect in grape-grower's murder has been found dead

FILE - Mariano Fernandez Perez appears in Kern County court in Bakersfield, Calif., on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, accused of shooting and killing grape grower Jakov Dulcich. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

UPDATE: The Kern County coroner's office on Wednesday, Dec. 5, announced that Mariano Fernandez Perez's cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) – The suspected shooter in the murder of local grape grower Jakov Dulcich has been found dead, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.

Mariano Fernandez Perez, 24, was found dead Monday at Highway 155 and Wallace Road near Delano, according to the coroner’s office.

The coroner’s office said Perez had suffered “traumatic injuries,” and his case is being investigated as a homicide.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Ken Russell was the trial attorney on the Dulcich murder case, which recently ended in a mistrial. Russell told Eyewitness News on Tuesday that he was told by the Sheriff’s Office that the man found dead Monday is the one-time Dulcich murder defendant.

Eyewitness News has attempted to get direct confirmation from the Sheriff’s Office.

Perez was released from jail last month when no new significant information came along on which to justify a retrial.

Still, Russell said then – and now – that they’ll keep digging into the case.

Russell said Tuesday that they continue to believe Perez was responsible for Dulcich’s murder, but they also believe there was an unidentified driver involved in the grape-grower’s shooting last spring.

Perez had admitted to being a gang member but denied involvement in the murder, according to previously obtained court documents.

Dulcich was known for his company’s Pretty Lady brand of grapes.

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