Man charged with poisoning his wife with thallium

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Bail of $2 million has been set for a Dulzura man who is accused of putting a deadly chemical in his wife’s food in order to kill her.

Extremely high levels of thallium were found in the system of Brigida Uto, 28, when she was hospitalized in March. Thallium is a heavy metal similar to mercury and lead, and has been used in rat poison before it was banned in the U.S.

Bail of $2 million has been set for a Dulzura man who is accused of putting a deadly chemical in his wife’s food in order to kill her.

Extremely high levels of thallium were found in the system of Brigida Uto, 28, when she was hospitalized in March. Thallium is a heavy metal similar to mercury and lead, and has been used in rat poison before it was banned in the U.S.

Her husband, Race Remington Uto, 27, is charged with three counts of attempted murder involving three alleged incidents in which he placed the chemical into her food.

Brigida Uto, 28, was listed as a teacher or staff employee by the Campo Elementary School before her illness.

The heavy toll upon her began in Sept. 2017 when she suffered nausea and vomiting. A court record said she consulted a doctor, but was improperly diagnosed.

Her symptoms worsened in January when she lost all her hair and had to be helped around by family members. She did not have the strength to walk or open a door, according to the arrest warrant declaration.

She was hospitalized March 6, and was diagnosed with Thallium poisoning. The drug has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the U.S. government.

Race Uto pleaded not guilty on April 4 before El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador, who set the $2 million bail and a June 5 preliminary hearing.

Uto is also charged with three counts of willfully putting a poison in food.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Reizen said the drug is hard to detect because it is odorless and tasteless.

Uto appeared in blue jail clothes with his attorney Kevin Haughton and denied the charges.

The arrest warrant declaration says searches involving thallium research and poisoning were found on his cell phone. Uto admitted to twice buying thallium online.

According to the declaration, Uto admitted to putting thallium in his wife’s food three times starting in August with the last time in Jan.

He intended to kill his wife and then himself, according to records.

The judge signed an order barring Uto from contacting his wife and other relatives.

The couple began dating when they were teenagers. They married in 2015 and bought a home in Dulzura.

Uto was in the Navy and recently was being held in a Navy hospital on a suicide evaluation. He was later arrested and is now in the Vista Detention Facility.

Smoking boot

A woman hid a gun inside an UGG boot and shot and killed an Alpine man, according to testimony from guests in her home.

Witnesses said Angela Marie Meza, 48, held the UGG boot in her lap during a get together with acquaintances in the home on Viejas Grade Road in Alpine on May 16, 2017.

No one thought anything unusual about Meza holding a boot in her lap until the gun hidden in it was fired and Lorenzo Rodriguez, 42, was shot in the torso at 6:35 p.m.

Meza was ordered March 28 to stand trial for murder after the 2-day preliminary hearing conducted by El Cajon Superior Court Judge Evan Kirvin.

“Why did you shoot at me?” asked Rodriguez, according to witnesses, towards Meza. “Why did you do that to me?”

Witnesses said Meza said nothing in response and everybody scattered in panic. Some left the house out of a window.

“He fell to the ground…like he was in pain,” said Ashley Mendelsohn. “He passed out on the floor.”

Mendelsohn testified she saw smoke coming out of  the bullet hole left in the boot and she saw Meza’s hand in the boot.

“At the time, I was in fear for our lives,” said Mendelsohn. “I was panicked.” 

Earlier that evening, she recalled hearing someone say that “Angela had a bullet for everyone in the house,” but she thought it was a joke.

“She didn’t talk. She seemed very upset about something,” said Mendelsohn. “I don’t know what the motives were.”

Meza pleaded not guilty at the end of the preliminary hearing. A trial date was set for Aug. 7. Meza remains in jail on $4 million bail.

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