Woman denies role in murder of East Village businessman

SAN DIEGO -- A woman accused of taking part in the robbery and murder of an East Village businessman inside his flooring-materials store pleaded not guilty Friday to felony charges that could lead to the death penalty if she's convicted.

Lorena Del Carmen Espinoza, 34, was ordered held without bail in the slaying of 49-year-old Ghedeer "Tony" Radda of El Cajon.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco described Radda as "beloved family man" who was cherished by his community. "It is a devastating, heartbreaking, impossible loss for that family," Greco told the court on Friday.

Judge Maureen Hallahan called the defendant "an extreme danger to the community."

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco said Espinoza entered Radda's business the afternoon of Oct. 10 wearing a wig and lured the victim to the a back room, where he was fatally shot, allegedly by co-defendant Kevin Eugene Cartwright.

Cartwright, 51, allegedly took money from the register and he and Espinoza left the Bottom Price Flooring store together, Greco said.

A surveillance camera inside the business captured images of the suspected killers -- a man wearing a Halloween-style old-lady mask and a light- skinned woman with long purple hair, possibly a wig.

Espinoza fled in Cartwright's car and he got away on foot, the prosecutor alleged.

Cartwright was arrested Oct. 17 and Espinoza was taken into custody Tuesday.

Both defendants are charged with murder and special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery and murder during a burglary.

District Attorney Summer Stephan will decide later if Cartwright and/or Espinoza will face life in prison without the possibility of parole or capital punishment if convicted.

Cartwright has pleaded not guilty to the charges with gun allegations.

Both he and Espinoza will be back in court Nov. 15 for a status conference.