Convicted murderer granted post-conviction relief 18 years after killing

Rafael Mora Contreras.

Family of a murder victim are preparing for a trial after a judge granted the man responsible for the death post-conviction relief.

In 2003, Rafael Mora Contreras was convicted of the murder of Gonzalo Pizano Guzman, 19. In 2000, Guzman's body was discovered near Hagg Lake. Contreras was found guilty of aggravated murder, intentional murder, felony murder and kidnapping.

In November, Senior Judge Jamese Rhoades granted the post-conviction relief. Contreras's attorney's argued he was not properly represented by his previous trial and appeals attorneys.

Guzman's family have kept his memory alive and moved on from the tragedy.

Edith Pizano, Guzman's younger sister, said family members were not notified about the post-conviction relief.

"Having to relive those moments, it's not fair because we had moved on," Pizano said.

Family have built a memorial in the area where Guzman's body was found. Pizano said she'd visit the area on his birthday and the anniversary of his death. She said the area was a place to remember the good memories. On Tuesday she said she was reminded of how he was killed.

"I think about it all the time. What would our life be like if Gonzalo was here? How would he look? How would our lives be if this didn't happen?" she said.

The post-conviction appeal will be held at the Washington County Courthouse. Contreras is currently in custody at the Washington County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

"This convicted murderer is getting a second opportunity. I feel, who else gets a second opportunity?" Pizano said.

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