Man to stand trial in Santee murder of Leticia Arroyo

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A judge ordered a man on Aug. 17 to stand trial for murder of Leticia Arroyo, 34, whose body was found in her Santee townhome where she had been shot in the head.

Family members of Arroyo sat through three days of testimony in the preliminary hearing of Jose Nunez Torres, 22, also charged with committing a home invasion robbery in La Jolla with Gustavo Ceron, 25.

A judge ordered a man on Aug. 17 to stand trial for murder of Leticia Arroyo, 34, whose body was found in her Santee townhome where she had been shot in the head.

Family members of Arroyo sat through three days of testimony in the preliminary hearing of Jose Nunez Torres, 22, also charged with committing a home invasion robbery in La Jolla with Gustavo Ceron, 25.

Many relatives of Arroyo came to El Cajon Superior Court with colorful T-shirts depicting her with angel wings, and photos with the words, “In loving memory.”

Torres was also held to answer for personal use of a firearm in a homicide that occurred on Oct. 4, 2016. He is the only person charged in the homicide. Deputy District Attorney Jim Koerber said Torres could face 25 years for the gun charge plus 25 years consecutively for first-degree murder if convicted.

Andrew Avila told El Cajon Superior Court Judge Andrew Amador he intended to meet with Arroyo the night she was killed and they exchanged text messages. However, she did not answer him after 7:30 p.m. Avila waited outside her residence and he saw a man with dark clothing leaving the area. Avila said the man got into a black car as a passenger and the car left.

Avila said the man was in his 20’s or 30’s, Hispanic, but he did not get a good look at him. Avila said he kept texting Arroyo, but she never answered, so he left.

Another witness testified he was walking outside and heard a gunshot and didn’t know where it was from. He saw a man running to a waiting car around 8 p.m. He said the man wore baggy shorts, but he couldn’t identify him.

Both Torres and Ceron are charged with robbing Robert Hill, who testified the men climbed through his kitchen window on Oct. 12, 2016. Hill said one man carried a pistol.

“He put the gun in my face and backed me up to the doorway to the living room,” said Hill, who said he was robbed of cash and credit cards.

Both men were ordered to next appear in court on Aug. 28 to set a trial date. 

Torres was also ordered to stand trial for evading officers with reckless driving, driving under the influence, possession of narcotics, paraphernalia, and auto theft.

A National City police officer testified he saw a stolen Honda sedan whose license plate was associated with the home invasion robbery. The officer said he tried to make a traffic stop upon the two occupants in the car, but the driver sped up on National City Boulevard and he lost sight of them.

Torres remains in jail on $1 million bail, but Ceron is being held on $305,000 bail. They have both pleaded not guilty.

Preliminary hearing set in Spring Valley auto theft and high speed chase

A Sept. 7 preliminary hearing has been set for Randy Lee Hanks, 37, charged with stealing his ex-girlfriend’s car in Spring Valley, and leading sheriff’s deputies at high speed throughout East County.

A sheriff’s helicopter ASTREA 3 was used to follow Hanks as he drove recklessly through Santee, El Cajon, and La Mesa, on July 19 at 11:30 p.m. 

Hanks, of El Cajon, drove at high speeds, passed vehicles on the wrong side of the road, and ran red lights. The ASTREA crew saw Hanks enter a parking structure at 8665 La Mesa Boulevard.

Sheriff’s deputies found Hanks hiding in a laundry room at 8694 Lemon Avenue where he was arrested.

Hanks pleaded not guilty to all charges that include burglarizing his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and stealing her car twice on July 15 and July 19. Court records say he removed a window in her apartment and took the keys on July 15.

He is also charged with evading officers with reckless driving, resisting an executive officer, and concealing a stolen car. He was convicted of robbery and auto theft in 2009, court records say.

A protective order was issued that forbade Hanks from contacting his ex-girlfriend, but she has filed a petition to modify it, saying she was not in fear of her safety.

“I am not at risk and didn’t request this order,” wrote his ex-girlfriend in the petition. She wrote that Hanks has abused alcohol in the past. Hanks remains in jail on $200,000 bail.

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