El Cajon man pleads guilty to killing his wife
Salem Zora, 51, of El Cajon, pleaded guilty Jan. 10 to second-degree murder in the 2013 slaying of his wife.
Zora admitted to fatally stabbing his wife, Gankil Wijdan, 39, with a knife in their apartment on June 2, 2013 in the 100 block of Roanoke Road.
Zora faces a maximum sentence of 16 years to life in prison, said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Dix. El Cajon Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein set sentencing for Feb. 15.
Zora was initially found not mentally competent to stand trial and was committed to a state psychiatric hospital in 2014. However, doctors there determined he had regained his mental competency and a judge agreed with that finding. He returned here for trial in 2016.
Zora called police at 7:51 p.m. and said he returned home that evening and found his wife bleeding on the floor. El Cajon Police officers said there were some inconsistencies in his statements and arrested him that night.
Zora is a Chaldean Iraqi and speaks with a Chaldean interpreter in court. He remains in jail on $1.5 million bail.
Man to stand trial for sex charges involving Spring Valley girl
A man who was wounded by law enforcement officers in Alpine in 2015 was ordered Jan. 10 to stand trial on sex charges involving a 13-year-old girl in Spring Valley.
After hearing three days of testimony in a preliminary hearing, a judge also ordered James Dean Fritz-Griggs, 27, of San Diego, to stand trial on charges of transportation and possession of methamphetamine for sale.
Several detectives and officers testified about the child molestation investigation in which Fritz-Griggs was alleged to have committed unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. The officers instead of testifying in open court recalled statements by the victim and her mother.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeff Fraser also ordered Morningstar Dawn Lopez, 39, of Otay Mesa, to stand trial on accessory after the fact in an attempt to have Fritz-Griggs avoid arrest.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon argued that Lopez had heard of the child molestation investigation and was driving him around so Fritz-Griggs could avoid being arrested.
Lopez’s attorney, Katie Belisle, argued unsuccessfully for the sole charge to be dismissed against her, saying she did not know anything about the child molest investigation. Belisle assailed what she called the “very creative theory” of accessory, and added that she thought the accessory charge should only involve the drug charges.
Sheriff’s detective Lisa Brannan testified she interviewed Lopez at the Alpine station after the shooting. She said Lopez had heard something about the child molestation investigation, but that Lopez said “she didn’t believe it.”
Several witnesses testified that a few days before the shooting, Fritz-Griggs pushed Lopez out of her own car and drove off. Belisle cited the incident in arguing that Lopez was not an accessory.
Additionally, Fritz-Griggs was ordered to stand trial for evading officers with reckless driving in the March 10, 2015, incident in Alpine in which he was shot multiple times.
Officers with the San Diego Regional Task Force were looking for Fritz-Griggs as a judge had issued a warrant for his arrest. They learned he was in a unit at an apartment complex on Arnold Way and were waiting for him to come out.
Fritz-Griggs quickly got into a 2004 Ford Excursion and attempted to flee when four agents fired shots “in fear of their safety,” according to the sheriff’s department.
A deputy marshal, David Curfiss, testified he was on the fugitive task force and was among four officers who fired shots at Fritz-Griggs after he tried to move the vehicle. Curfiss said the windows were darkly tinted and they could not see what he was doing. He said officers yelled “police, stop!” before they fired.
Curfiss testified officers could see a wounded Fritz-Griggs in the car once the windows shattered from the bullets. “I fired until I saw him fall over to the side,” he said.
Fritz-Griggs and Lopez will next appear in court on Jan. 26 to set a trial date. They have pleaded not guilty. Fritz-Griggs remains in jail on $100,000 bail, but Lopez is free on $25,000 bond.