Kent man faces murder charge in 2022 Auburn case of man found shot

The two men apparently were friends; man found inside vehicle

A 27-year-old Kent man faces a first-degree murder charge for allegedly shooting a 25-year-old man whose body was found in February 2022 in Auburn.

Eddie J. Contreras pleaded not guilty on March 16, 2023 to the murder of Luis Cerda and a first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. A trial date has not been set. Contreras remains in the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle with bail set at $5.2 million.

Auburn Police arrested Contreras Feb. 28, 2023 in Kent on an unrelated felony harassment charge at his ex-girlfriend’s home when he threatened to shoot up the home and a $75,000 warrant for failure to appear for arraignment on a felony violation of a court order, according to charging papers.

“The defendant (Contreras) shot an unarmed man, a man who believed the defendant to be his friend, in the head while the pair were out for the evening,” according to Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Donald Raz. “The defendant then abandoned the victim’s body and the victim’s car on a secluded road and fled the scene.”

Cerda’s body was found Feb. 22, 2022 in his mother’s black Hyundai Elantra on Southeast 312th Way in Auburn. The blood stain patterns on Cerda’s body and his positioning in the front passenger seat of the car indicated that his body had been positioned by someone else in the seat, according to charging documents. There was a handgun found under the seat where Cerda was seated but it had no magazine in it.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office later determined that Cerda had been killed by a gunshot wound to his head and ruled his death a homicide.

Auburn Police contacted Cerda’s family and found out they had not seen him since the evening before the discovery of his body. Cerda’s girlfriend told detectives that she had received a text that he was with Contreras, known by the street name of “Smooth,” according to charging papers.

The girlfriend said Cerda and Contreras had fought recently and that Contreras wanted Cerda “to join a gang and bring a gun.”

Detectives used a Facebook profile picture of Contreras to compare him to booking photos and identify him. Police used video surveillance from apartment complexes on Southeast 312th Street that reportedly showed Contreras walking near where Cerda’s vehicle was found.

Detectives determined from Cerda’s cellphone that he and Contreras began communicating with each other in December 2021. Text messages and phone calls reportedly were exchange the night before Cerda’s body was found about the two meeting up.

By tracking cellphone data from the phones of the two men, police determined they were in the Panther Lake area of Kent around midnight. At about 12:30 a.m. they traveled to Covington and were in that area for a couple of hours.

They next were near Wilson Playfields in Kent, according to cellphone tower data. Cerda’s cellphone continued to connect with cell towers and was tracked to the vincinity of 12900 SE 312th Way, where his car was located. Contreras reportedly turned off his cellphone, which was last tracked near Wilson Playfields at about 2:18 a.m. and then not turned on again until about 12:37 p.m.

A review by detectives of Contreras’ Snapchat account reportedly showed a video of him holding and pointing Cerda’s Glock handgun, confirmed via the visible serial number, and matches the handgun recovered from Cerda’s vehicle, according to charging papers.

During a brief interview with detectives, Contreras reportedly said he had met Cerda once. He said he was never in Auburn. Contreras then ended the interview.

According to charging documents, Contreras has a lengthy criminal history, including prior convictions for assault, disorderly conduct and violation of a court order. He has pending charges for felony domestic violence violation of a court order, felony harassment and unlawful possession of a firearm.

If convicted on all the charges, Contreras could face a sentence range of 31 to 40 years, according to court documents.