Man convicted of murdering co-worker while robbing employer

mira mesa murder

SAN DIEGO — A man who beat, stabbed and killed a co-worker during a robbery at a Mira Mesa wire transfer and shipping business was convicted Friday of first-degree murder.

Leopoldo Pacuan, 51, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Nov. 9.

After a two-week trial, Pacuan was convicted in the May 17, 2014, death of 63-year-old Raquel Morales.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund told jurors that the killing was a “crime of convenience” and “an inside job” at the business that catered to the Filipino community.

The prosecutor said Pacuan had worked at LBC Express in Mira Mesa in the past, but had been out on disability leave with a shoulder injury since October 2013.

The night of the murder, Pacuan waited for the store to close at 7 p.m. and called Morales to let him in the back door, Maund said.

Pacuan made a wire transfer at 7:15 p.m., then Morales began balancing her books, according to the prosecutor.

After Morales made a $10,000 “drop” into a safe that already contained $8,000 in cash, Pacuan got violent with the victim, beating, stomping and stabbing her at least nine times, the prosecutor told the jury.

Morales’ bloodied body was found in the business early the next morning.

“The defendant did this over his desire for money,” Maund told jurors.

When Pacuan couldn’t get the money from Morales, he took her watch, wedding ring, purse and cell phone, the prosecutor said.

Pacuan’s DNA was found on a piece of latex under the victim’s body, and he was arrested four days later. The defendant’s watch also had the victim’s blood on it.

Defense attorney Euketa Oliver claimed that a man who worked a couple of doors down from Morales and interacted with her the day of the murder was the real killer, and was subpoenaed to come to court but committed suicide before he could testify.

Oliver said the killer wore latex gloves, the same kind that were found outside LBC on May 18, 2014.

Oliver said Pacuan was a married man who supported six children in the Philippines. She said her client cooperated with police and voluntarily gave them a DNA sample.