El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Neal Putnam

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.

An El Cajon man who stole his ex-girlfriend’s car and led sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase has pleaded guilty to felony evading, resisting an executive officer and auto theft.

Randy Lee Hanks, 38, is likely to receive a prison term of eight years and four months, said Deputy District Attorney Carlos Campbell.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 16 in El Cajon Superior Court. Hanks remains in jail on $200,000 bail.

Prison terms of 22 and 16 years have been handed down to two men who robbed an El Cajon restaurant and other stores in which the bandits wore stolen military clothing.

David Luis Magana, 28, got 22 years from San Diego Superior Court Judge Kathleen Lewis. She sentenced Joseph Everett Olmos, 25, to 16 years.

Both men held up the Sombrero Mexican restaurant, at 1215 W. Main Street, in which Magana fired a handgun at one employee on March 3, 2016.

A drunk driver who caused the death of her boyfriend when she struck another vehicle in El Cajon has been sentenced to seven years in state prison.

An audience of standing room only attended the sentencing of Tania Molinar, 23, by El Cajon Superior Court Judge Patricia Cookson on June 12.

Molinar pleaded guilty March 20 to gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of David Sarabia-Lopez, 29, of El Cajon, and driving under the influence of alcohol.