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Various Authors 3:49 p.m., Dec. 3
A man accused of giving his friend a ride to the Mexican-American border after the friend allegedly shot and killed his pregnant girlfriend, made a plea deal yesterday.
Jesse Juan Lopez, 22, admitted that he helped his friend, “who committed a felony, after the fact, to avoid and escape from arrest,” according to paperwork in his court file.
It was 7:24 p.m. the night of April 7, 2012, when the friend allegedly shot Viri Rodriguez, 18, while they were all helping the woman move into a new apartment in Escondido. The woman and her four-month-old fetus were killed with the same, single 9 mm shot, according to testimony at a hearing last June.
The man accused of firing the gun, Ruben Anthony Cepeda, 21, has pled not-guilty to two charges of murder, one for his girlfriend and one for the fetus.
The deceased woman’s two sisters were said to be in the same apartment that night, and they said they heard Cepeda say it was an accident and apologize to Viri for shooting her. The stricken woman was not able to speak after she was shot, according to testimony.
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe has said an autopsy showed “a muzzle stamp on the victim’s stomach,” implying the shooter pressed the gun to the victim’s abdomen.
Watanabe also claims the murder defendant has a prior felony conviction for robbery, in 2007, when he would have been 16-years-old.
One sister testified that she saw Jesse Lopez take off his shirt and use it to pick up a black handgun that was lying on the floor, before the two men fled in a truck driven by Lopez.
According to plea deal paperwork, Jesse Juan Lopez expects to be sentenced to 16 months in prison on October 16.