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Suspected gunman in gang shooting that killed woman faces judge

VISTA, Calif. -- A man accused in a gang shooting in Escondido that killed a female driver on her way home from church pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of murder, attempted murder of rival gang members and shooting at an occupied vehicle.

Dionicio Torrez Jr. 24, also faces gang special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty.

A 16-year-old boy also was arrested in connection with the shooting that killed 55-year-old Catherine Kennedy. He is scheduled to have a detention hearing in Juvenile Court on Monday.

The victim was found shortly after 9 p.m. March 7, alongside eastbound Grand Avenue near Midway Drive, suffering a gunshot wound to her head after her silver Toyota Camry crashed into a parked vehicle.

Investigators believe Kennedy was struck by a stray bullet fired by one of at least two gang members shooting at each other.

Kennedy was taken to Palomar Medical Center, where she died.

Torrez, being held without bail, will be in court March 28 for a readiness conference.

A preliminary hearing is set for April 3.