Preliminary hearing set for man accused of killing his husband

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A Feb. 19, 2020 preliminary hearing has been set for a man suspected of killing his husband, Blake Synowski, a longtime El Cajon dentist.

Thomas Wayne Zupner, 65, has pleaded not guilty to murder in the Sept. 17 death of Synowski, 62, with whom he was married for 11 years.

Synowski was a periodontist for 30 years and his office was located on Avocado Avenue in El Cajon, according to his Linked-In page.

Zupner’s attorney, former District Attorney Paul Pfingst, described it as “an accidental death” during a bail review hearing in El Cajon Superior Court.

Pfingst told Judge Robert Amador that Synowski had a medical condition that caused him to spontaneously pass out. Pfingst said Zupner was trying to force feed Synowski.

Synowski died of suffocation in his home on Explorer Road near La Mesa. Paramedics removed matzo crackers that were in his mouth but he could not be revived.

“There was no quarrel, ill will or any history of domestic violence,” said Pfingst. “In no way could it (force feeding) be interpreted to harm him.”

Pfingst asked for bail to be set at $150,000 with the condition Zupner wear a GPS ankle monitor.

Deputy District Attorney Meredith Pro asked for $2 million bail, saying that Zupner represents a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Pro said the relationship between the two had deteriorated. There were bruises on Synowski’s arm and Zupner had slapped him, she said.

Synowski’s sister attended the Oct. 16 bail review. Pro said the victim’s family did not want lower bail for Zupner. The judge set bail at $2 million and he remains in jail.

Synowski’s funeral was held Oct. 26 in Salem, Oregon, where his mother and some of his siblings live. His obituary said Synowski helped found a dental service for people with HIV in Hillcrest.

Man identified in 2000 baseball bat killing and robbery

Two former Spring Valley men have identified a third man whom they said killed a 71-year-old man during a robbery in 2000 with a baseball bat.

The testimony came in the murder trial of Edward Jamar Brooks, now 39 and formerly of El Cajon for the slaying of LeRay “Mac” Parkins in North Park.

This cold case homicide was revived in 2018 when the empty pockets of Parkins was tested for DNA evidence, and a match was made to Brooks, who had moved to North Carolina.

Brooks’ attorney, Robert Ford, showed the San Diego Superior Court jury photos of Lester Bell, now 39, and Terrence Brown, now 38, as the “real murderers.”

“I was kinda shocked when he hit him,” said Bell, about the Aug. 23, 2000 incident.

Brown was the getaway driver and was not in the alley when Parkins was hit, but Ford alleged Brown struck the man. Brown denied it.

“Your client committed a crime,” said Brown to Ford in court. “He wants to be a coward and not man up and admit (what he did).”

Bell has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and Brown has pleaded guilty to robbery. Both will be sentenced Nov. 15 and they remain in jail.

Brooks also denied committing the murder and has pleaded not guilty. He also remains in jail. The jury was to start deliberations this week.

Man sentenced for stabbing released from jail

Roberto Felipe Inchaurregui, 28, of Spring Valley, has been released from jail after being sentenced to a 1-year term for stabbing a man at an ARCO AM/PM mini mart in Spring Valley.

A 6-year prison sentence was suspended against Inchaurregui who won’t have to serve it if he follows conditions of three years probation. He was fined $1,374, according to court records.

El Cajon Superior Court Judge Robert Amador ordered Inchaurregui to stay away from the Jamacha Road mini market and the victims in the case.

The incident occurred Feb. 2 when he punched a female customer in the face and stabbed another customer in the hip who was coming to her defense, according to the prosecutor.

Inchaurregui pleaded guilty to felony assault with a deadly weapon.