Family of teen murder victim says the DA dropped the ball - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Family of City College murder victim says the DA dropped the ball

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Police are seeking Gonzales' estranged husband, 37-year-old Armando Perez. Police are seeking Gonzales' estranged husband, 37-year-old Armando Perez.
The family of Diana Gonzales, 19, say she failed to return home from school Tuesday night. The family of Diana Gonzales, 19, say she failed to return home from school Tuesday night.

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) - A South Bay man wanted in connection with the murder of his 19-year-old estranged wife in a restroom at San Diego City College may be in Mexico, police said this afternoon.

Armando Gabriel Perez, 37, is considered a "person of interest" in the violent death of the young mother at the Park Boulevard campus late Tuesday night, according to police.

Though positive identification is on hold pending fingerprint comparisons, investigators believe the body is that of Diana Gonzalez of National City, based on her clothing and general physical appearance, SDPD Capt. Jim Collins said.

Police refused to discuss the injuries she suffered, though Collins said the nature of the wounds made it difficult to readily identify her.

A student found the woman's body in a men's room at the downtown campus about 10 p.m., according to San Diego police. Gonzalez's family had reported her missing a short time earlier when she failed to meet them at the school for a ride home following a night class.

Gonzalez's relatives had been driving her to and from school out of concern that her husband might try to harm her, according to Collins.

On September 23, Gonzalez, the mother of a 9-month-old girl, filed a police report accusing Perez of kidnapping her and repeatedly assaulting her while holding her captive in motel rooms for several days, the captain said.

The husband was jailed, and the SDPD Domestic Violence Unit investigated the case and forwarded it to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' office, which declined to file charges. Perez was released from custody following four days behind bars, the captain said.

Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, said the agency does not publicly "discuss why we reject cases."

Then on September 28, Gonzalez obtained a restraining order against her husband, but it had not yet been served on him at the time of her death, Collins told reporters during a late-afternoon briefing outside downtown SDPD headquarters.

Domestic violence charges filed against Perez in a separate case from April 2009 were dismissed, a court clerk confirmed to News 8.

At the Gonzalez home in National City Wednesday night, the victim's sister and cousin lashed out at the District Attorney's office, saying prosecutors dropped the ball by not moving forward with the two previous domestic violence cases against Perez.  The relatives said if charges had been aggressively prosecuted, Gonzalez might still be alive.

Gonzalez and Perez had been married for about 10 months.

Police believe that Perez, who has been staying recently in Logan Heights and Chula Vista, may have fled to Mexico, since he apparently has at least one relative who lives in the Tijuana area.

U.S. authorities have asked Baja California law enforcement personnel to be on the lookout for him, Collins said.

The 5-foot-9-inch, roughly 165-pound Latino is known to drive a blue 1999 Ford Mustang, California license number 6GKA572, and should be considered potentially armed and dangerous, according to police.

Anyone with information on Perez's whereabouts was asked to call San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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