Trial ordered for man accused of killing homeless men with railroad spikes

Jon David Guerrero

SAN DIEGO — A man accused of attacking several people — mostly homeless victims — in San Diego neighborhoods in 2016, resulting in four deaths, will stand trial on charges that could lead to the death penalty.

Jon David Guerrero, 42, was bound over for trial Friday by San Diego County Superior Court Judge Kenneth K. So on 15 felony counts, including murder, arson, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. He also faces a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders stemming from the spree of attacks that occurred over about a five-month span in 2016.

Some of the victims were set on fire, while others were impaled with railroad spikes.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has yet to make a decision on whether to pursue capital punishment against Guerrero, who’s being held without bail and is due back in court Dec. 16.

Guerrero’s case has been delayed by numerous mental competency proceedings and multiple stays at Patton State Hospital. He was deemed mentally competent to stand trial in June.

According to prosecutors, Guerrero’s crime spree began on Feb. 8, 2016, when the defendant allegedly stabbed a man who was sleeping on a sidewalk.

The rest of the crimes he’s charged with committing occurred in July of that year, beginning with the July 3 burning death of Angelo De Nardo, 53, whose body was found underneath an Interstate 5 offramp near the 2700 block of Morena Boulevard in Bay Park. Witnesses described seeing a man running across the freeway near Claremont Drive, carrying a gas can.

The following day, Shawn Mitchell Longley, 41, was found dead at a park on Bacon Street in Ocean Beach, and 61-year-old transient Manuel Mason was severely injured near Valley View Casino Center in the Midway district.

On the morning of July 6, Dionicio Derek Vahidy, 23, was gravely injured in downtown San Diego by an assailant who fled after leaving a towel burning on top of him. Vahidy died in a hospital four days later.

Another attack happened shortly after 4:30 a.m. July 15, when two San Diego Harbor Police officers in a squad car in the 1800 block of C Street heard someone underneath Interstate 5 in the East Village yelling for help. The officers pulled over and found a 55-year-old homeless man suffering from “significant trauma” to his upper body.

The defendant was arrested the same day. Guerrero — who was on a bicycle — had a backpack containing a large mallet with apparent blood stains, along with three railroad spikes, prosecutor Makenzie Harvey alleged.

In the months following his arrest, investigators revealed that Guerrero is also suspected of fatally injuring 83-year-old Molly Simons July 13, 2016, in a North Park alley. Police said Simons was not homeless and lived with her husband.

There are no indications that the suspect knew the victims, according to police.

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