Arrests Made in Death of Man Found in Burning Car

An autopsy showed that 59-year-old Cordell Cooper was beaten, stabbed and strangled before being set ablaze, police say

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    Miami Beach Police
    Martin Gallegos, right, and Ellis McDaniel, left.

    Three people were arrested and faces charges in connection to the death of a man who was found in the back seat of burning vehicle in Miami Beach over the summer, police said Monday.

    An autopsy showed that 59-year-old Cordell Cooper, who was listed as the owner of the car, was beaten, stabbed and strangled before being set ablaze, Miami Beach Police said. They said they were able to identify him by the registration of the vehicle and DNA testing.

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    Martin Gallegos, Ellis McDaniel and a 14-year-old boy were arrested and face charges. Gallegos faces first-degree murder, McDaniel faces a charge of accessory after the fact to murder and the teenager faces first-degree murder and carjacking/robbery.

    Police said the car was found at 973 Bay Drive in Miami Beach, and a confidential informant led authorities to the two primary suspects. They got an arrest warrant for Gallegos, who was already in jail for a probation violation.

    He confessed to participating in the incident, and he said initially Cooper was targeted to be robbed and carjacked, but they decided to kill him in order to avoid being identified, police said.

    Cooper was killed and left in the abandoned car, police said. Gallegos was told by McDaniel, an acquaintance, to burn the body, police said. McDaniel drove Gallegos to a gas station and gave him a gas container, which Gallegos used to ignite the body and vehicle, police said.

    Miami Beach police said Gallegos was arrested on Jan. 5, McDaniel was arrested on Feb. 2 and teen five days later.

    The names of their attorneys weren't immediately known.