Julie Stalmer 1:30 p.m., July 26
Fugitive Wanted On Murder Charges Arraigned
Ruben Anthony Cepeda, 21, is accused of putting a gun to the belly of the woman carrying his baby and killing both her and her four-month-old fetus, in an apartment in Escondido last April.
Cepeda kept his head down in San Diego’s North County Courthouse this afternoon while his court-appointed attorney pleaded not guilty on his behalf, to two counts of murder.
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe said an autopsy showed “a muzzle stamp on the victim’s stomach” indicating a contact wound -- meaning the shooter must have pressed the gun onto the victim’s abdomen when the shot was fired. The shooting reportedly happened about 7:24 p.m. on April 7, 2012, and the woman and her unborn child were both declared dead about an hour later, at 8:44 p.m.
The deceased woman, Viridiana Rodriguez, 18, was reportedly moving into a new apartment with her boyfriend Ruben Anthony Cepeda when the woman’s two sisters heard the gunshot from another room. The sisters rushed into the bedroom and heard Cepeda say it was an accident, and then he apologized to Viridiana Rodriguez for shooting her, a detective stated. Ruben Cepeda’s companion, Jesse Lopez, took off his shirt and used it to pick up a handgun that was lying on the floor, before the two men fled, according to prosecutor Watanabe.
Jesse Juan Lopez, 22, has been charged as accessory after the fact, he was arrested April 24. Ruben Cepeda was a fugitive for more than two months before he was apprehended by law enforcement in Mexico on June 11, and then handed over to U.S. Marshalls; Cepeda is said to be an American citizen. Both defendants are members of a criminal street gang based in Poway, according to the prosecutor.
The ex-girlfriend of Ruben Anthony Cepeda was a source of arguments between Cepeda and the shooting victim, an Escondido police detective wrote in papers found in the court file. “Ruben and his ex-girlfriend still communicate over text messaging and on Facebook, telling each other how much they still love and miss one another,” Detective Greg Gay stated in an arrest warrant dated two days after the shooting.
Ruben Anthony Cepeda has a juvenile criminal history, including a “strike” conviction for robbery when he was 16 years old, the prosecutor said.
Judge Marshall Hockett noted the defendant’s “significant criminal history” before he said, “I am raising bail from 1 million to 5 million dollars.”
More like this:
- Escondido man guilty of double-murder for shooting pregnant girlfriend — Sept. 4, 2013
- Family of alleged murder victim gave testimony — Aug. 27, 2013
- Sister of alleged murder victim testified — Aug. 27, 2013
- Death of pregnant teen is charged as double murder — Aug. 23, 2013
- Man admits helping friend escape after shooting — Sept. 14, 2012