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Hearing set for Colombians in Las Vegas woman’s cosmetic surgery death

Family members say they seek justice and hope unlicensed medical procedures can be stopped

Image

Courtesy KSNV Channel 3

Ruben Dario Matallana-Galvas, 55, and Carmen Olfidia Torres-Sanchez, 47, appear in Las Vegas Justice Court on April 13, 2011.

Updated Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 12:39 p.m.

Surgery Death

The location where the surgery occurred. Launch slideshow »

KSNV: Botched Surgery Death

KSNV Channel 3 coverage of a court hearing in the death of Elena Caro. Two Colombian nationals -- Ruben Dario Matallana-Galvas, 55, and Carmen Olfidia Torres-Sanchez, 47 -- are facing murder charges in what police have called a botched surgery death. Caro was seeking buttocks enhancement surgery.

As about 10 members of Elena Caro's family watched, two Colombian nationals facing murder charges in the surgical death Saturday of the 42-year-old Las Vegas woman made their first appearance this morning in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Judge William Jansen set a preliminary hearing for 8:30 a.m. May 17 for Ruben Dario Matallana-Galvas, 55, and Carmen Olfidia Torres-Sanchez, 47.

They were arrested Saturday night at McCarran International Airport in connection with Caro's death as they were trying to catch a flight to Medillin, Colombia.

Jansen told them they were each qualified to be represented by public defenders. Deputy Public Defender Christy Craig will represent Matallana-Galvas and Special Public Defender David Schiek will represent Torres-Sanchez.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo asked for no bail for the defendants because they were trying to flee to Colombia.

Jansen said he would set no bail for two reasons.

"One being I find they are a threat to the community and number two is they are a high risk for flight in that they were detained or arrested at McCarran Airport attempting to leave the country," Jansen said.

Craig disputed that and told the judge that they had been in court for only a few minutes and none of those in court knew much about what had happened other than what the news media were reporting.

"I'm just saying what was presented to me in the police report. That's all," Jansen said. He said a bail motion could be filed during the preliminary hearing.

The two are being held in the Clark County Detention Center.

Outside the courtroom, Rosie Caro, a niece of the victim, told reporters that her family was seeking justice and wanted to put a stop to the kinds of surgical procedures going on in the valley in the Hispanic community that led to the tragedy.

"It was a surprise to all of us," Caro said. "We didn't know because if we would have known we would have stopped her."

She said they don't want to let this to happen to other people in the Hispanic community.

"People never do anything about it," she said.

The incident began when police responded at 5:58 p.m. Saturday to 3310 E. Charleston Blvd. to investigate reports of a missing woman under suspicious circumstances, officials said.

Caro's daughter had dropped her off at the location — a two-room office in the back of a floor tile business — earlier in the day to undergo the cosmetic surgical procedure for a buttocks enhancement, according to a police arrest report.

The daughter watched Matallana-Galvas and Torres-Sanchez give Caro an injection in the buttocks area before she left and was told to return several hours later, police noted in the report. Caro called her daughter later in the day to say the procedure wouldn't be done for at least another three hours, according to the arrest report.

When she returned later to pick up her mother, however, the business was abandoned and Caro was missing, authorities said.

After his arrest, Matallana-Galvas allegedly told detectives he was a homeopathic doctor in Colombia but not a licensed doctor in Nevada, according to the arrest report. He said Caro walked out of the office after he administered the procedure, which he allegedly admitted to not having the correct equipment to perform.

Asked what she thought happened, Caro's niece said said "I think they got scared and just thought she was dead and dumped her somewhere. And she woke up after that."

Police said Caro had been taken by ambulance from a location several miles away, in the 3500 block of East Lake Mead Boulevard, to North Vista Hospital.

Detectives aren't sure why the suspects left Caro in the area of Lake Mead Boulevard, Roberts said. People in the area called 911 to get help for the victim.

"Apparently, she was in a lot of pain, and she was visibly requesting help," Roberts said.

Police didn't elaborate on possible causes of her death, citing pending toxicology reports.

Caro said her aunt was referred to the medical facility by a beauty salon, which would receive money for each person sent over to them for referrals.

Caro described her aunt as "a really hard working woman," who had lived in Las Vegas almost all of her adult life.

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