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1979 San Joaquin County Bar Shooting Suspect, Arrested After Decades On The Run, Dies Awaiting Trial

STOCKTON (CBS13) — The man suspected in a 1979 San Joaquin County shooting that left a local bar owner dead has died in prison before standing trial.

Joseph Rocha was shot and killed back on June 27, 1979 at was once Rocha's Club in the south area of San Joaquin County. The suspect and accomplice were reportedly asked to leave the bar due to poor behavior. But, a little while later, the pair returned and again tried to buy beer.

When the pair were refused, the suspect pulled out a gun and shot Rocha dead.

Investigators believed the suspect - Jesus Emilio Baraza Valdez - fled the country after the shooting and changed his name.

Back in December 2020, detectives learned that Valdez had returned to the US. He was soon arrested at a home in Southern California.

However, on Thursday, the sheriff's office announced that Valdez had died of natural causes while in custody at the San Joaquin County Jail. He was still awaiting trial for the homicide.

Valdez's accomplice had already been arrested, charged and convicted back in 1979. With Valdez being the only outstanding suspect, the sheriff's office says the case has now been closed with his death.

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