Escondido Gang Shooting: Woman killed just driving home from chu - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Escondido Gang Shooting: Woman killed just driving home from church

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VISTA (CNS) - A preliminary hearing began Tuesday for an alleged gang member accused of involvement in a shootout in Escondido that killed a female motorist driving home from church.

Dionicio Torrez Jr., 24, is charged with murder, attempted murder of rival gang members and shooting at an occupied vehicle. A decision will be made later whether Torrez will face the death penalty if convicted in the killing of 55-year-old Catherine Kennedy.

The victim was found shortly after 9 p.m. March 7, alongside eastbound Grand Avenue near Midway Drive, suffering a gunshot wound to her head after her silver Toyota Camry crashed into a parked vehicle.

Investigators believe Kennedy was struck by a stray bullet fired by one of at least two gang members shooting at each other. Kennedy was taken to Palomar Medical Center, where she died.

One of the first officers to arrive on the scene took the stand Tuesday in front of several of the victim's family members and described the condition he found Kennedy in.

"She was slumped over, her head was very close to the steering wheel," officer Spinos said. "I saw blood dripping from the fore end of her face and she was making a gurgling sound, gasping for air as her lungs were filling with a liquid."

Motorists who were driving by at the time of the shooting told officer Spinos that they "heard a popping noise," and saw muzzle flashes near a joint apartment complex on the Grand Avenue.

After the preliminary hearing, a judge will decide whether enough evidence was presented to warrant ordering Torrez to stand trial.

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