Jury Finds Two Men Guilty of 1993 Slaying of Two Sailors in Otay Mesa

Both Defendants Face Life in Prison without the Possibility of Parole

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis, announced first-degree murder verdicts today in a 1993 cold case in which two sailors, Eugene “Cliff” Ellis, 20, and Keith Combs, 23, were gunned down and left for dead in an Otay Mesa field.

Leopoldo Chavez and Edward Elias – both 36 – were found guilty of first-degree murder with gun allegations and specials circumstances of committing murder during a robbery and multiple murders.

“After nearly two decades, a measure of justice has been served to the family and friends of the two victims in this case,” DA Dumanis said. “Deputy DA Andrea Freshwater, who heads up our Cold Case Homicide Division, did an excellent job presenting the evidence to the jury.”

Ellis and Combs had spent the night at a bonfire with friends, many of whom were also in the Navy. Early the next morning, their bodies were found at the bonfire site and Ellis’ new truck was missing. Four days later, Chavez was found driving the truck in Tijuana. Recently, both Chavez and Elias were linked to the crime scene through DNA evidence.

Both men, who are facing life without the possibility of parole, will be sentenced on May 11 at 8:45 a.m. in Department 51.