SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Two men accused of robbing and fatally shooting a pair of San Diego-based sailors 18 years ago in an area of Otay Mesa popular for after-hours drinking and bonfires pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder charges.
Edward Jesus Elias and Leopoldo Castro Chavez II, both 35, are accused in the Sept. 25, 1993, deaths of 20-year-old Eugene "Cliff" Ellis and 23-year-old Keith Combs. The victims were stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation.
Both defendants are charged with two counts of murder and special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery and multiple murders.
Because they were 17 at the time of the killings, Elias and Chavez are not eligible for the death penalty and would face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted, Deputy District Attorney Andrea Freshwater said.
A status conference was set for Oct. 7, when the case is expected to be assigned to a judge for trial.
Retired San Diego police homicide Detective David Swiskoski testified at a preliminary hearing earlier this month that both victims were shot twice in the head and once in the chest from close range.
Swiskoski said the victims were found 10-12 feet apart in an area east of Palm Avenue and Interstate 805, where they had gone to have a bonfire and drink beer with other Navy personnel.
A few days after the slayings, Chavez was caught driving Ellis' stolen pickup in Tijuana and was arrested. He was questioned by detectives but they were unable to connect him to the murders, police said.
In November 2009, San Diego police laboratory personnel notified the department's cold-case investigators of a potential match between the previously unidentified biological evidence recovered from the site of the slayings and Chavez's profile in a national database. He was arrested in July 2010 at his home in Washington state and eventually extradited to San Diego.
Fingerprints found in the stolen vehicle pointed to Elias, who was arrested and charged in April, Freshwater said.
Authorities announced a $6,000 reward Thursday for information that leads to the arrest of a fugitive suspected of wounding an off- duty lawman and a bystander with gunfire near Petco Park.
The Navy says the commanding officer of a warship that lost seven sailors in a collision off the coast of Japan will be relieved of command, and nearly a dozen other sailors face punishment.
San Diego State University announced Thursday a $500,000 gift from the Qualcomm Foundation to endow scholarships for students in the Lamden School of Accountancy.
What if we told you that you could eat some tasty burgers and wash them down with some tasty brews, all for a great cause?
A man was beaten unconscious in his Valencia Park home Thursday morning by a group of four or five men armed with baseball bats and guns, police said.
It's Little Italy's biggest party and this year it's coming in with a western twist. On Saturday, Ferragosto promises to be full of adventure, prizes, food and more.
On Wednesday, Cal Jet by Elite Airways announced it would launch its daily non-stop flight service from Carlsbad’s airport to Las Vegas starting in September.
A question for all the married people out there: Do you listen to your spouse? Comedian Steve Trevino gets a lot of laughs from his brutally honest bits involving his day-to-day life with his wife who he jokingly (we assume) refers to as the devil.
Hungry? Of course you are. Love Latin food? Yea, we know. The 2017 Latin Food Fest is ready to sizzle your taste buds this Friday and Saturday at the Embarcadero Marina Park North.
An intruder groped a woman Thursday morning in a Little Italy apartment before he was chased from the residence and escaped a police search, authorities said.