Jailed suspect freed in Weslaco double-fatal arson case
Tue, 27 Jul 2010 04:19:38 GMT — Andy Padilla said his Weslaco neighborhood just isn't the same since a double fatal house fire on Valley View Drive last October."People who don't even live here will slow down out of respect... it's hard to see it and remember what happened," Padilla explained.Right across the street from his home sit the charred remains from the blaze that claimed the lives of Melva Martinez and her 12-year-old son A.J. Oliva.Padilla's daughter went to school with the little boy.Teddy bears from part of a makeshift memorial to remember the victims still sit under the mailbox at the home."I just think of the youngest one that managed to get out and the fact that he doesn't have a mother and a brother anymore," Padilla said.30-year-old Mario Salina, Jr. was arrested and charged on multiple counts of capital murder following an arson investigation by the Weslaco Fire Marshal's Office.But the case, once considered a slam dunk by investigators who pinned the fatal arson on Salinas over a vengeful rage from a broken relationship with the victim's daughter, never panned out.The Hidalgo County District Attorney's Office dismissed the case against Salinas last Thursday because of insufficient evidence, according to Rene Guerra, who's the District Attorney.By Friday, he was a free man after spending more than 8 months behind bars on a bond once as high as $2.5 million dollars.Melissa Salazar is a spokesperson for the Salinas family."He was innocent from the get-go."Salazar said Salinas was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.She hopes with the charges now dropped against him, Salinas can go back to being a productive citizen and good father to his children, free from public scrutiny."We're just trying to move on with our life," she said. "It's over with... it's just a really big nightmare."It TMs a nightmare that will continue to play out in the form of a deadly mystery on Valley View Drive.