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Murder charge in Carthage case dismissed

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JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) _ Prosecutors have dropped a second-degree murder charge in the death of a Carthage man who was killed with a machete.

The charge against 47-year-old Juan Mendoza was dropped Monday and he was released from the Jasper County jail, where he had been held since May 2012.

Jasper County Prosecutor Dean Dankelson says the charge was dropped after a judge suppressed statements Mendoza reportedly made to police after his arrest. He says that left the prosecution without its key piece of evidence, and the deportation of a key witness also hurt the state’s case.

The Joplin Globe reports 43-year-old Mario Gonzalez was found hacked to death in April 2012 near a camp on a river in north Carthage.

The murder charge could be refiled if new evidence is found.

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Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, joplinglobe.com