VISTA, Calif. — A Vista man accused of fatally stabbing an acquaintance and critically wounding her 8-year-old daughter in the victims’ San Marcos apartment pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of premeditated murder and attempted murder.
Judge Marshall Hockett ordered 28-year-old Daniel Hernandez held in lieu of $5 million bail, calling him a danger to the community.
Hernandez faces life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior.
Sheriff’s deputies went to a unit in the Whispering Oaks Apartment complex on North Twin Oaks Valley Road about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and found 41- year-old Antonia Marie Duran dead of multiple stab wounds and her 8-year-old daughter, Azalya, badly injured, homicide Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said.
Prior alleged Hernandez, who had met Duran a couple months earlier at a car wash, went to her apartment the day of the murder with the intent to kill her.
The defendant searched the apartment to make sure no one else was there, finding only Azalya asleep in her room, Prior said.
The girl woke up while Hernandez was allegedly stabbing the victim and screamed, “Leave my mother alone,” the prosecutor said. Not wanting to leave a witness, Hernandez then attacked the girl, stabbing her 26 times in the liver, kidney and pancreas, Prior alleged.
As she was being taken to the hospital, the girl said “I don’t want to die,” according to Prior, who said the child is expected to live but is in a medically induced coma.
Prior said Duran’s adult son found his mother and sister lying in a pool of blood after seeing the defendant run from the apartment. Duran was stabbed 22 times, Prior said, though a motive for the attack was unclear.
Hernandez was located at a nearby laundromat, washing the clothes he had been wearing, including a sweatshirt, shoes and other clothing, Prior alleged.
The prosecutor said blood and other physical evidence links Hernandez to the attack. She said two bloody knives were found inside the victims’ apartment.
A week before the murder, Hernandez trashed his parents’ home and was arrested for being under the influence of an unknown drug, according to Prior, who said the defendant has previous convictions for domestic violence, assault and misdemeanor burglary from Washington state.
Hernandez will be back in court Jan. 7 for a preliminary hearing.