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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.”

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Comments

David Dodd June 12, 2012 @ 8:01 p.m.

I am very much anti-death penalty, but I would lobby for an exception in this case. They should kill the bastard twice.

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Visduh June 12, 2012 @ 9 p.m.

Mindy, black vs. white has nothing to do with this all-Hispanic case. The guy is a typical local banger with a big 'tude, and he tried to play the Mexican game to avoid justice. Somehow, and I cannot really fathom it, the south-of-the-border cops actually arrested a bad guy and turned him over to the cops on this side of the border. Someone really wanted him back enough to pay for the effort.

As I look at the pics attached to this story, this dude looks most familiar. Unless I'm mistaken he was at Escondido High School about three years ago--and that fits his age profile--with his anti-authority glowering. But then I might be wrong: after all, all those Latinos look about the same to me. Touche.

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SurfPuppy619 June 13, 2012 @ 5:44 p.m.

The death penalty is appropriate in certain cases, but it should be abolished because it is subject to so much discretion, which results in rich people not being charged with it and poor people being charged disproportionately.

OJ Simpson is a classic example of a death penalty case, yet it was not sought, because he was 1) wealthy, 2) a celebrity and 3) there are too many discretionary options in using it.

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