SAN DIEGO – A man accused of gunning down a brother and sister during an argument at a Southcrest-area home pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder charges that could lead to the death penalty.
Felipe DeJesus Vega, 38, is charged in the Nov. 8 “execution-style” deaths of 20-year-old Arline Iribe and 22-year-old Alex Velarde. The defendant – – a Mexican citizen — was ordered held without bail.
Deputy District Attorney Amy Maund alleged that Vega shot the victims after a sequence of events days before the murders.
On Nov. 8, Iribe decided she’d had enough of Vega’s refusal to let an unspecified issue go, but he pulled out a gun and shot her before turning the weapon on her brother, Maund told Judge David Szumowski.
“[The brother and sister] were vulnerable, they knew the defendant and they treated him as a family member for years,” said Maund.
Maund, who did not disclose a specific motive for the killings, alleged outside court that Vega “destroyed the family within minutes.”
Vega fled and was the subject of a manhunt until the night of Nov. 12, when officers spotted him in his car about a block away from the South 43rd Street house where the slayings occurred.
Refusing to yield, Vega led a 20-minute road chase during which he allegedly tossed a handgun out of his vehicle, Maund said.
Vega ultimately pulled over near Joyner Elementary School but ignored repeated orders to exit and surrender. He remained holed up in his green Oldsmobile Cutlass late into the night as officers and negotiators attempted to coax him out of the car and used pepper spray and a police dog to try to force him to comply.
When he finally exited the sedan, Vega appeared to reach for something in his waistband as he turned toward police, prompting Officer Christopher Luth, an 11-year member of the SDPD, to shoot him once in the upper body, according to police.
Vega was treated at a hospital for a non-life-threatening wound.
“There is no indication that he would comply with the courts order to return to court if he made bail,” said Maund. “He is a Mexican citizen with no ties to this community other than the victims’ family. We are requesting no bail.”
He is charged with two counts of premeditated murder and a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has yet to decide whether Vega will face life in prison without parole or the death penalty if he’s convicted.
A status conference was set for Dec. 2 and a preliminary hearing for Jan. 14.