Alleged funeral burglars plead not guilty to 13 residential burglaries

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Three accused burglars face an Oct. 14 preliminary hearing on charges they broke into homes of East County residents attending funerals of loved ones based on public obituaries they read online.

David Andrew Valenzuela, 34, of El Cajon, Herbert Jon Cruz, 34, of San Diego, and Jennifer Lynn Martinez, 33, all appeared Aug. 6 in El Cajon Superior Court to get the new hearing date. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Three accused burglars face an Oct. 14 preliminary hearing on charges they broke into homes of East County residents attending funerals of loved ones based on public obituaries they read online.

David Andrew Valenzuela, 34, of El Cajon, Herbert Jon Cruz, 34, of San Diego, and Jennifer Lynn Martinez, 33, all appeared Aug. 6 in El Cajon Superior Court to get the new hearing date. They have all pleaded not guilty.

There were 13 residential burglaries in El Cajon, Spring Valley, and San Diego where suspects targeted people who were attending funerals, and discovered the break-ins when they got home. In some cases, the home of the deceased was burglarized, according to El Cajon Police who were assisted by the sheriff’s department and San Diego Police.

The estimated loss is approximately $100,000, although some stolen property was recovered. Police said an Internet history search of the defendants’ computers confirmed their intentions. The trio is also charged with using the victims’ credit cards.

Valenzuela and Martinez, who is also known as Jennifer Alarcon, remain in jail on $500,000 bail, while Cruz’s bail is set at $550,000 because he has a separate burglary and robbery case in San Diego Superior Court.

La Mesa man pleads guilty in hate crime against American Muslim group

John David Weissinger, 54, of La Mesa, pleaded guilty Aug. 4 to making a criminal threat and a hate crime to an American Muslim advocacy group. He also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of an assault weapon and violating the civil rights of a Muslim worker.

Sentencing is set for Oct. 13 in San Diego Superior Court. Deputy District Attorney Oscar Garcia said Weissinger faces one year in jail with probation, but he could end up serving seven years in prison if he violates probation terms.

A worker from the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Kearny Mesa previously testified she received death threats at work from Weissinger and she saw him in the building on Jan. 14-15. The caller referenced incidents in Paris just days after terrorists killed 17 people at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a Jewish market.

Weissinger’s attorney said his client was influenced by alcohol in making the calls. Weissinger is free on $50,000 bond on condition he abstains from alcohol. He must also stay 100 yards away from all mosques and Muslim groups.

El Cajon assault and burglary lands man in jail

Darnell Monyay Whitaker, 28, was sentenced Aug. 5 to one year in jail for assaulting his girlfriend plus burglary and vandalizing an El Cajon motel in an unrelated incident.

The projected release date for Whitaker is Sept. 6 after he received credits for six months in jail following the March 8 incident at 5:05 a.m. at the Villa Serena Motel, at 771 El Cajon Blvd. El Cajon Police said Whitaker broke windows, punched the manager, and officers used a Taser to subdue him, as he was armed with a knife and bat.

Whitaker was placed on three years probation in El Cajon Superior Court and is expected to participate in a drug treatment program.