SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A suspected gang associate accused of taking part in an assault that left a woman fatally injured underneath an abandoned car in a
City Heights alley last month pleaded not guilty Monday to hit-and-run and assault with a deadly weapon charges.
Marco Antonio Gutierrez, 29, faces eight years in prison if convicted.
Gutierrez came to court out of custody after posting $50,000 bail, but was taken back to jail when his bail was increased to $250,000.
He was allegedly behind the wheel when Jasmine Ruiz was run over April 20. Prosecutors theorize that the victim was dead or near death after being
stabbed in the jugular vein, allegedly by co-defendant Christina Daniel.
Daniel, 32, was charged with murder last week and ordered held without bail in the 29-year-old victim's death.
Deputy District Attorney David Bost said at Daniel's arraignment that she is on parole for a 2007 carjacking, and has also been charged in a separate
case in the South Bay with stabbing a person in the head and back. She faces a prison term of 26 years to life -- which could be doubled -- if convicted.
Detectives have not determined a motive for the fatal assault. Police believe the suspects have gang ties and that the victim did, as well, but
investigators do not think those involvements played a direct role in the deadly confrontation, San Diego police Lt. Manny Del Toro said.
It is "quite possible'' Ruiz was run over by the vehicle as a means of preventing her from getting away after being knifed, he said.
Bost said police initially thought Ruiz was the victim of a hit-and-run. A subsequent investigation determined that the victim was stabbed in the
jugular vein, probably while she was in a car that she had borrowed, then was run over and dragged about 15 to 20 feet, the prosecutor said.
Police said Ruiz had been staying with friends in the area.
Shortly after 10 a.m. on April 20, officers responding to reports of a disturbance and traffic accident in an access road off the 4100 block of Wilson
Avenue found Ruiz mortally wounded beneath a damaged and unoccupied 1993 Toyota Camry. She died at the scene.
Witnesses described hearing an argument between several people just prior to the crash and seeing a pair of men and a bloodied woman running out of
the area in different directions, Lt. Manny Del Toro said.
The defendants will be back in court May 25 for a readiness conference.
San Diego County is making a major investment in technology to detect wildfires breaking out in the back country.
A controversial ordinance that prohibited feeding the homeless in public spaces in El Cajon expired Tuesday, after the county lifted its emergency declaration on the hepatitis A outbreak.
An alliance of California marijuana growers filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block state rules that they fear could open the way for vast farms that would drive smaller cultivators out of business or send them into the black market.
PETA is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information about the person or people who left four puppies out with the trash in San Diego in recent weeks.
A dispute between two students at Lincoln High School escalated Tuesday into a stabbing that sent one of them to a hospital.
San Diego police are investigating a rapid increase in the number of cases of stolen catalytic converters from cars.
A 19-year-old man accused of groping and sexually assaulting four female students as they walked to their off-campus housing near San Diego State University must stand trial on seven charges, including false imprisonment and sexual battery, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Authorities Tuesday asked the public for help in identifying a fast-working crew of burglars who broke into a luxury-goods retailer at Fashion Valley mall and made off with more than half a million dollars' worth of merchandise.