El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Neal Putnam

After 10 hours of deliberations over two days, a jury on Friday convicted a man of first-degree murder in the 2016 slaying of Leticia Arroyo in her Santee residence.

Jose Nunez Torres, 23, was also found guilty of 15 other charges including robbery, burglary, evading officers with reckless driving and two auto thefts.

The seven-man, five-woman jury also found true special circumstances allegations that the murder of Arroyo, 34, was committed during a robbery, burglary and while lying in wait.

Two men who pleaded guilty to various crimes testified Sept. 5 against a man on trial for the murder of Leticia Arroyo who was shot to death in her Santee town home in 2016.

The trial of Jose Nunez Torres, 23, continues this week before a seven-woman, five-man jury and Judge Evan Kirvin in El Cajon Superior Court.

The man who drove the getaway car moments after Torres allegedly killed Arroyo, 34, testified. His name is not being released as he has received threats, according to his attorney, Gloria Collins.

A Spring Valley man was ordered Aug. 24 to stand trial for murder in the death of a man who was shot seven times in public.

Osvaldo Apolo Lopez, 36, will get a trial date set on Sept. 10 in the death of Ricardo Sales, 30, of National City, who was killed Nov. 14, 2017 in Imperial Beach.

Chula Vista Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sontag heard almost one and a half days of testimony in the preliminary hearing that included several sheriff’s detectives and others.

A trial for Congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife could be somewhat soon, a federal prosecutor told a judge at their arraignment Aug. 23 on campaign finance charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Halpern said the prosecution was ready for trial soon and that Hunter and his wife “have known about this investigation for a while.”

A trial date could be set on Sept. 4, the next court appearance for Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, if their attorneys feel they are ready to set a trial date.

An Oct. 17 preliminary hearing has been set for Gustavo Flores, 38, who is accused of killing a man who banged on a front door of a Lemon Grove home before he died.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the June 21 incident in which Juan Martinez, 47, of Lemon Grove, was found lying on the ground and unresponsive in the 7600 block of Lemon Avenue.

Fire department personnel responded and tried to revive Martinez, but he was pronounced dead at 9:19 p.m. before he could get to a hospital. People inside the home called 911.

An El Cajon man who killed his mother and tried to kill his brother in 2015 was sentenced to 24 years to life in state prison on Aug. 8, 2018.

Erik Enrique Margain, 38, said nothing before he was sentenced by El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador, who ordered him to pay $3,542 in restitution that includes funeral expenses.

Martha Margain-Velarde, 63, was beaten to death in her home in the 1900 block of Hidden Crest Drive in El Cajon around 5 p.m. on May 17, 2015.

Two East County men were ordered Aug. 2 to stand trial for the kidnapping and torture of a man who was injured near Lemon Grove and was hospitalized for a week.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura Birkmeyer heard three days of testimony in a preliminary hearing of Derrick Jefferson Spurgeon, 38, of El Cajon and Kenneth John Schutt, 34, of Lakeside.

“He’s very believable,” said Birkmeyer of the victim. “I found him to be precise.”

An El Cajon man was ordered July 25 to stand trial for being an accessory to murder when he allegedly provided a boat for his friend to dump his roommate’s body in a 55-gallon drum into San Diego Bay.

After two days of testimony in the preliminary hearing, Chula Vista Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sontag ordered Derrick Jefferson Spurgeon, 38, to trial for accessory and Timothy John Cook, 53, for murder.

Travis Sterling Haddix, 27, has pleaded guilty to attempted murder of his wife who was stabbed four times in the parking lot of a Santee restaurant.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador set the sentencing for Sept. 11, 2018.

Amador indicated he would consider a sentence of eight years in prison.

Travis and Heather Haddix, 25, met Nov. 20, 2017 in the parking lot of the Olive Garden on Mission Gorge Road in Santee at 2:09 p.m. to discuss their separation and child custody arrangements, according to the sheriff’s department.

A man who was convicted of killing an acquaintance with a shotgun blast in Spring Valley in 2007 was sentenced on July 13, 2018 to 105 years in state prison.

Because Marlin Lattereal Royal, 44, has two prior felony convictions, the 25 years to life term for first-degree murder was tripled to 75 years due to the three strikes law, said prosecutor Kristie Nikoletich.