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A prosecutor claims that the 21-year-old boyfriend of a pregnant teen pressed the tip of his 9mm Glock semi-automatic against her belly, just above her belly-button, and then pulled the trigger.

The bullet did not touch the 16-week-old male fetus, but the baby died when the mother died, according to prosecutor Keith Watanabe.

Other persons who were in the Escondido, California apartment at the time of the shooting rushed to the room after they heard the shot. Witnesses said they heard the startled young woman exclaim “You shot me!” Eighteen-year-old Viridiana Rodriguez was standing, facing her boyfriend Ruben Anthony Cepeda, when he apologized and told the pregnant teen “it was an accident,” according to witnesses.

The call to 911 was dialed at 7:24 p.m., and the stricken woman was declared dead at hospital at 8:44 p.m., on April 7, 2012.

A single bullet traveled through the woman from front to back in nearly a straight line, dropping only a half-inch before it lodged in her spine, according to the prosecutor.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe declared that the presence of soot and searing on the wound, and lack of stippling, are evidence that it was a contact shot. He told a jury to expect forensic testimony from an expert, the doctor who performed the autopsy, to confirm this.

Dr. Steven Campman recovered a hollow-point 9 mm slug from the woman’s spine; a photo of the mangled bullet was shown to a jury yesterday, August 22, 2013, during opening statements of trial. The alleged murder weapon has not been recovered, the prosecutor said.

Around the timeframe of the shooting, the defendant had been in contact with several former girlfriends, including one 19-year-old woman named Carina who is the mother of his 2-year-old child, prosecutor Watanabe told the jury.

Ruben Cepeda fled the apartment after the shooting. He traveled from Escondido, California to the Mexican border at Otay Mesa, tracked by cell phone usage, the prosecutor said.

The shooting occurred April 7 and Cepeda was a fugitive until he was captured by Mexican authorities two months later, on June 11, 2012, and turned over to agents for the U.S.A.

Prosecutor Keith Watanabe has charged Ruben Anthony Cepeda, now 22, with two murders for the deaths of 18-year-old Viridiana Rodriguez and her 16-week-old fetus.

Trial began Thursday and will resume Monday morning, August 26, before the Honorable Judge Harry Elias, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.

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Ken Harrison Aug. 24, 2013 @ 7:07 a.m.

Eva, how do you take photos in court? Seems like I can't even hold my phone without being noticed. You're the best court reporter around. Keep it up, even though you have to sit through hours of boring testimony to get one good story.


Eva Knott Aug. 24, 2013 @ 8:30 a.m.

Thank you for your kind words. To capture photos or sounds or do any electronic recording, everyone must get a signed court order from that particular judge, in advance. If a spectator tries to use his/her cellphone in court, the bailiff is authorized to confiscate that phone, by law. Everybody is allowed to take written notes at will, without any special permission.


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