By SCOTT LAWSON
North Port Editor
SARASOTA — A suspect in a September 2018 homicide has pleaded not guilty a second time and has a new attorney while the case keeps winding through the justice system.
Juan Salazar-Diaz, 21, of Deep Creek, remains in Sarasota County Jail with no bond allowed on charges of second degree murder along with charges of third degree grand theft of a vehicle and possession of weapon by a convicted felon.
Salazar-Diaz is accused in the September slaying of Tyren Kinard, 21, of Port Charlotte.
Kinard’s body was discovered Sept. 8 just inside North Port city limits. Responding emergency workers declared Kinard dead at the scene with several bullet wounds discovered. Kinard was clothed only in black shorts, court documents state.
Kinard, on social media, went by the name Londonn Moore and some knew Moore as transgendered, living life as a female. It led an effort by authorities to reach out to the LGBTQ community to track down information about what may have led to Kinard’s death.
Kinard’s driver’s license and legal name is Tyren Kinard. Family members have said they knew Kinard’s sexuality but Kinard was known as Tyren to them. Friends and co-workers have said they knew Tyren as Londonn Moore. The Sun’s standard is to discuss people by their chosen pronoun and gender, but is unable to establish a clear distinction in this instance.
Cynthia Lakeman, a Tampa attorney, took over the case May 23 after Salazar-Diaz’ defense attorney withdrew, citing an “ethical conflict exists.” Salazar-Diaz’ earlier defense attorney learned “an existing or former client” is now a witness in the case, according to a motion to withdraw.
Lakeman’s work with Salazar-Diaz started immediately and he pleaded not guilty while on a phone call with Lakeman in court that day.
Salazar-Diaz was the focus of the investigation shortly after Kinard’s body was found in September. After several months of investigation, Salazar-Diaz was arrested Dec. 19. The investigation states the DNA of Salazar-Diaz along with DNA of the victim were on a latex glove found in the car Kinard had recently purchased.
A pack of cigarettes found near the victim’s body had blood splatter and a Salazar-Diaz fingerprint, authorities said. Records show the pack of cigarettes was found in a ditch near Kinard’s body. The latex glove was found between the center console and the front seats of the driver’s compartment.
Kinard’s vehicle was recovered two days later in the 26000 block of Explorer Road in Deep Creek, less than a quarter mile from where Salazar-Diaz lives.
North Port Police also used cellphone records to connect Salazar-Diaz to the crime. Records indicate Kinard made three calls in the hours before his death. All three calls on Kinard’s phone went to the same phone number, which at the time was registered to Salazar-Diaz.
Reports show Salazar-Diaz admitted to authorities the phone number called did belong to him, but denied ever calling or knowing the victim. Salazar-Diaz also told authorities he had changed his number a few weeks after the slaying, but would not elaborate.
While vehicle theft has been charged, no motive has been stated by investigators.
Salazar-Diaz is a convicted felon following an armed robbery in 2013 in Lee County. He was 16 at the time of the crime. Salazar-Diaz was also arrested in 2017 in North Port for fleeing police after a traffic stop — he did not have a license at the time of the traffic stop.
In May, Salazar-Diaz’ attorney indicated they would be using an alibi defense, saying he had two witnesses who would vouch for him being at his home in the 26000 block of Sand Hill Boulevard at the time of the slaying.
According to court documents, Salazar-Diaz’ next court date is Aug. 13, but no trial date has been set.