Pair to stand trial for East Village business owner’s murder

SAN DIEGO -- A man and woman accused in the robbery-murder of an East Village businessman inside his flooring materials store last fall were ordered Friday to stand trial on charges that could have them facing the death penalty.

Kevin Eugene Cartwright, 52, and Lorena Del Carmen Espinoza, 35, are both charged with murder, with special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery and murder during a burglary, in the slaying of 49-year-old Ghedeer "Tony" Radda.

The District Attorney's Office has not yet made a decision whether to pursue capital punishment for the defendants, who are also charged with robbery and burglary, while Cartwright faces additional charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and robbery for a separate hold-up that occurred the day before Radda's death.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco said Cartwright has eight prior robbery convictions.

Prosecutors allege Espinoza entered Radda's business -- Bottom Price Flooring at 1015 G St. -- in the afternoon last Oct. 10 wearing a purple wig and lured the victim to the back of the store, where he was fatally shot by Cartwright.

According to the prosecution, surveillance camera footage showed Espinoza and Radda walking toward the back of the store, while the gunman -- dressed in all black and wearing a Halloween-style old-lady mask -- slipped behind the pair toward the cash register. He then sneaked toward the back of the business where the victim was talking with Espinoza and attacked him, though the shooting occurred off-camera.

Prosecutors allege that after he shot Radda, Cartwright went to the register and forced it open with a pry bar while Espinoza stood at the entrance and acted as a lookout.

After making off with cash, the pair left the business but had to return because Cartwright left the keys to their getaway vehicle inside the store, prosecutors allege. Surveillance footage showed them re-entering the store and Espinoza locating the keys on the floor. They then left the business and walked away in opposite directions, Espinoza westbound down G Street toward the GMC Yukon SUV they drove to the scene, and Cartwright eastbound, according to prosecutors.

Cartwright was arrested Oct. 17 and Espinoza was taken into custody about two weeks later.

Their next court date is a Sept. 18 Superior Court arraignment.

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