Man accused of killing San Diego State administrator ordered to stand trial

Paul Tomasini accused in death of Mary Shojai

EL CAJON, Calif. - A handyman who allegedly bludgeoned a San Diego State University administrator to death when she tried to break off a three-year romantic relationship last year must stand trial for murder, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Paul Carl Tomasini, 64, is charged in the Sept. 30 death of 62-year-old Mary Shojai, who was the director of student disability services at SDSU.

Judge Daniel Goldstein ruled that enough evidence was presented at a preliminary hearing at the El Cajon courthouse to order Tomasini to stand trial May 28. A readiness conference was set for March 13.

At Tomasini's arraignment last year, prosecutor Amy Colby told a judge that Shojai had been scheduled to pick up a friend at the airport, but failed to show. When the traveler went to the woman's home in the 10500 block of Strathmore Drive, she saw the defendant pacing inside, Colby said.

Shojai's friend, Linda Lewiston, testified she drove to Shojai's house to check on her after she didn't hear from her. Over the phone, she said Tomasini told her Shojai was there, but she "couldn't speak to her."  Lewiston also testified that Tomasini told her "to call the police."

According to the prosecutor, both the friend and the defendant called law enforcement, and deputies who responded around 10 p.m. found the mother of two adult children on the floor in a pool of blood.

Investigators found two large candlesticks and a wooden mallet nearby, she said, adding that blood and hair were found on the base of the mallet and the candlesticks.

An autopsy determined that the victim had been struck 17 times, according to Colby.

Tomasini faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted, and an additional year for each of three weapons allegations lodged against him.

According to San Diego State's website, Shojai worked for 37 years at SDSU, where a colleague called her "a transformational leader" who got things done.

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