North County man held without bail in murder of live-in girlfriend

VISTA, Calif. -- A man accused of shooting his girlfriend in the head at their Vista apartment complex pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge.

Esteban Montelongo, 41, was ordered held without bail. He faces 110 years to life if convicted in the death of 28-year-old Michelle Hashtani.  According to Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Reischl, Montelongo is a flight risk and danger to society, " for that reason the people feel 'no bail' is appropriate."

Montelongo allegedly opened fire on Hashtani with a pistol at their apartment complex in the 600 block of Ascot Drive on July 22 after the two got into an argument. Sheriff's deputies found the victim gravely injured in a pool area about 3 p.m.  She was at the pool area waiting for a friend to pick her up.

Hashtani underwent emergency surgery, but died Aug. 3, said Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Reischl.

A motive for the shooting was not known.

Montelongo was tracked down and arrested in Pueblo, Colorado, on July 24 and was recently extradited to San Diego County to face charges.  He's facing murder and an additional charge for using a firearm to committ grave bodily injury.   Montelongo has two prior convictions with strikes, if he's found guilty he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

"Whenever you have a strike case the sentence is doubled or tripled depending," Reischi explained

Montelongo will be back in court Sept. 18 for a readiness conference. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6.