Bail set for murder suspect; ex-deputy guilty of gun sales

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A judge set bail at $2 million Dec. 29 for a young man accused of shooting another man to death in the parking lot of the Marketplace in Lake Murray Village in La Mesa.

Alexander Cesar Nghiem, 20, pleaded not guilty to murder and to being a felon in possession of a firearm in the slaying of Di’Marcus Lavonne Mayes, 29, of Escondido on Dec. 11.

Deputy District Attorney Marideth Kimble told El Cajon Superior Court Judge John Thompson the victim was invited into Nghiem’s car where he was apparently shot in the torso and neck.

Kimble said Mayes stumbled outside and Nghiem apparently drove off.  La Mesa police officers responded to multiple calls regarding gunshots and found Mayes. They rendered aid until paramedics arrived, but Mayes was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Kimble said there was a bloody scene left in Nghiem’s car and he drove the vehicle to his grandmother’s house, covering it with a tarp.

The victim and Nghiem were strangers to each other, the prosecutor said. 

Kimble asked for $3 million bail, saying he was a danger to the community. She said Nghiem was on probation for a felony charge that was unspecified. His attorney, Paul Rodriguez, asked for reasonable bail.

A Feb. 9 preliminary hearing was set.

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A former sheriff’s captain who pleaded guilty to illegally selling firearms from a sheriff’s station is expected to receive a 2-year federal prison term, according to court records.

Both the U.S. Attorney’s office and the attorney for Morad Marco Garmo, 52, of La Mesa, have agreed to a joint recommendation of 24 months in prison and a $8,350 fine.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 13 before U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel.  Garmo remains free on $100,000 bond.

The U.S. Attorney’s office is not opposed to “a delayed self surrender” to prison as Garmo is concerned about the spread of COVID-19 within federal prison, records say.

Federal authorities searched his home in February 2019, and Garmo retired in October 2019, after working for the sheriff’s department for 27 years.

Court documents say some of the gun sales paperwork took place in the Rancho San Diego sheriff’s station where Garmo worked. That station services Spring Valley, Lemon Grove, and other areas.

Garmo has agreed to forfeit 58 firearms and 5,385 rounds of ammunition. A total of 291 firearms and 131,458 rounds of ammunition were forfeited with other people who were also implicated.

Leo Hamel, 62, a Jamul resident who founded a jewelry store, acquired several firearms from Garmo without proper documentation. Hamel and sheriff’s lieutenant, Fred Magana, 42, both pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Garmo’s business. They are free on bond and will be sentenced in February and March.

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Terrell Damauge Mallard, 27, of Lemon Grove, was sentenced Dec. 17 to approximately 10 days in jail that he has already served for striking a man with a metal pipe in 2019.

Mallard pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in the injury to Anthony McFarlan, 43, who was found bleeding and lying on a sidewalk in the 7200 block of Pacific Avenue in Lemon Grove.

The sheriff’s department said the victim had been chased by Mallard and three teenagers on June 24, 2019. A 15-year-old boy was detained by sheriff’s deputies, but his case is not public record because of his age.

Mallard was ordered to stand trial for assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious injury following a preliminary hearing with five witnesses. The felony charges were later dismissed and he was sentenced to the time he had already served in jail before he was allowed to remain free on his own recognizance by an El Cajon Superior Court judge, according to court records.

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