Accused Xmas Eve triple murder suspect hospitalized along with cell mate

Carlo Gallopa Mercado

Carlo Gallopa Mercado at his arraignment on three counts of murder

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SAN DIEGO — A man accused of fatally shooting three people — two at a Mission Valley mall on Christmas Eve three years ago — is hospitalized along with a fellow jail inmate after both were found in medical distress in their shared downtown cell.

Deputies discovered accused triple murderer Carlo Gallopa Mercado, 31, and convicted killer Abel Angel Martinez, 52, ailing in their quarters at the San Diego Central Jail about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said.

Details on the nature and severity of the inmates’ medical emergencies were not immediately released.

Mercado, who could face the death penalty if convicted, is scheduled to stand trial next April on charges of fatally shooting Salvatore Belvedere and Ilona Flint, both 22, as the victims sat in a parked car at Westfield Mission Valley early on the morning of Dec. 24, 2013.

Three weeks later, the body of Belvedere’s 24-year-old brother, Gianni, was found in the trunk of a sedan outside a fast-food restaurant near March Air Force Base in Riverside. Like the other two victims, Gianni Belvedere, who was engaged to marry Flint, had been shot in the head.

Prosecutors believe there was no prior connection between Mercado and the victims. Instead, the defendant allegedly shot the three Tierrasanta residents in a case of “chance road rage,” killing one and then coming back to murder the other two, Deputy District Attorney Brian Erickson has said.

Mercado’s cellmate was convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder for sneaking into a Dehesa-area home in March 2014 and shooting his ex- girlfriend and her boyfriend, killing the man and wounding the woman.

It was unclear Wednesday afternoon if Martinez’s sentencing, scheduled for Friday, would have to be postponed due to his medical emergency.

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