El Cajon man to stand trial for beating death of mother

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An El Cajon man was ordered Jan. 23 to stand trial for the beating death of his mother and attempted murder of his brother in 2015.

Erik Enrique Margain, 37, was held to answer for the May 17, 2015 slaying of his mother, Martha Margain-Velarde, 63, and injury to Carlos Margain, who suffered broken ribs in the 5:30 p.m. assault in the home in the 1900 block of Hidden Crest Drive in El Cajon.

An El Cajon man was ordered Jan. 23 to stand trial for the beating death of his mother and attempted murder of his brother in 2015.

Erik Enrique Margain, 37, was held to answer for the May 17, 2015 slaying of his mother, Martha Margain-Velarde, 63, and injury to Carlos Margain, who suffered broken ribs in the 5:30 p.m. assault in the home in the 1900 block of Hidden Crest Drive in El Cajon.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Evan Kirvin conducted the preliminary hearing. Margain had been in a state psychiatric hospital after being found mentally incompetent and was returned here in 2017 when he regained his competency.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Carberry said Margain had decided he “had enough of mom” and didn’t like being told what to do, so he killed her.

Margain punched his mother with his fist 62 times, said Carberry, adding that Margain admitted this to a sheriff’s detective. She suffered blunt force trauma injuries to her head, neck, and torso.

The physician who performed the autopsy wasn’t available, so Carberry and Margain’s attorney, Stewart Dadmun, agreed to stipulate as for the cause of death described in documents without calling a witness.

After injuring his mother, Margain knocked on his brother’s door. He beat, kicked, and choked him to unconsciousness. Carberry said Carlos Margain suffered a collapsed lung, broken nose, broken facial bones around the eye.

“He was beaten up pretty bad,” said Carberry.

Carlos Margain, now 40, testified, as did a sheriff’s homicide detective and a responding deputy. Carlos Margain escaped the home by kicking out a window screen.

A trial date will be set on Feb. 6. He has pleaded not guilty. Erik Margain remains in jail on $3 million bail.

“Chameleon Bandit” trial to begin Jan. 25

The trial of the “Chameleon Bandit” began Jan. 25 with the prosecutor showing jurors a video the El Cajon man apparently took of himself with bank cash scattered in the back seat of a car.

Darius Demon Lake, 29, is charged with holding up three banks in El Cajon and three banks elsewhere in the “Chameleon Bandit” series which was named because of his changing appearance.

Lake is charged with 12 counts of robbery and one attempted robbery in which multiple tellers and customers were held up in six incidents from Oct. 5 to Oct. 27, 2017.

Deputy District Attorney Lucille Yturralde showed a short video apparently made by Lake in which the robber shows a mixed group of cash scattered in the back seat of a car. Yturralde said Lake recorded it on his cell phone, and police recovered it.

Yturralde said Lake wore disguises that covered his tattoos, and “grits his teeth” during the hold-ups.

“He knew what he is going. It was a very planned event,” said Yturralde. “He would tell witnesses to get on the ground. He would curse at the victims.”

She said a gun was never seen, but he maneuvered his hands that implied he had a weapon.

Yturralde said police recovered Lake’s palm print on a bank counter and after his arrest was told that information. She said when police told him of the “Chameleon Bandit” nickname, Lake laughed and said “I love it.”

“I thought you were gonna call me the Clean Getaway Bandit,” Lake responded to police, according to the prosecutor.

Lake’s attorney, Jeremy Thornton, told the six woman, six man jury and San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O’Neill that bank camera photos will show the actual robber, but it was not Lake in the photos.

“Mr. Lake is not that robber. They have charged the wrong person,” said Thornton. “It wasn’t my client.”

“Mr. Lake was a marked man,” said Thornton.

The first witness was a former employee of the Bank of the West on E. Main Street in El Cajon, which was held up Oct. 5, 2017, and lost about $5,000.

“I followed procedure. He threatened to kill me three times,” said the former employee, whose name is not being used because she said “I was really scared.”

A third witness was a teller at Mission Federal Credit Union at 760 North Johnson which was held up Oct. 19. She said she had a panic attack and was shaking afterwards.

Lake has pleaded not guilty. He was arrested Oct. 29, and remains in jail on $500,000 bail. 

A co-defendant, Bryan Barkely, 24, of El Cajon, pleaded guilty to three bank robberies, and will be sentenced March 2.

Yturralde said Barkely faces a maximum sentence of 19 years in prison. Barkely also remains in jail. 

Lake pleaded guilty to robbing three banks in 2012 and was sentenced to five years in federal prison, according to federal court records.

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