A gang member suspected of killing his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn child was handed over to Escondido police detectives early Monday after being apprehended in Mexico.
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Mexican authorities released Ruben Anthony Cepeda to the U.S. Marshal's Office at the U.S./Mexico border about 2 a.m., according to Escondido police Sgt. David Cramer. The Marshal's Office, in turn, transferred Cepeda to Escondido police detectives.
"The apprehension of Cepeda could not have happened without the cooperation of the Mexican authorities," Cramer said in a statement.
Cepeda, a 21-year-old construction worker and U.S. citizen, is suspected of killing 18-year-old Viridiana Rodriguez and the couple's 4 1/2-month-old fetus in April.
Police said Rodriguez was shot in the abdomen the evening of April 7 at the Estancia apartment complex at 725 N. Fig St. She and her unborn child died about an hour later at an area hospital.
Two women told police they were in the apartment when they heard a gunshot from another room and found Rodriguez shot. Cepeda allegedly said the shooting was accidental and fled with fellow gang member Jesse Juan Lopez, 22.
The victim's older sister, Yemely Rodriguez, had been sleeping in the next room when the shooting occurred.
"Seeing your sister lying down there, dying on you is something that is never going to go away
always going through your mind," she said.
She told 10News she was expecting Cepeda to be picked up but not this soon.
"They're saying it's not an accident, so right now everything's so confusing," she said. "We just want to know that he's in custody. We want to know what happened. When I saw them a couple of times, I saw them happy. There's times that had arguments like everybody so I never thought this would happen."
She added, "I just want him to be honest and to say exactly what happened and pretty much just let us know exactly what happened that night."
Lopez was arrested in San Diego County on April 24 on suspicion of accessory to murder and gang allegations. At Lopez' arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said the men were moving into the apartment when the shooting occurred.
Lopez pleaded not guilty and faces seven years in prison if convicted.
Watanabe said Cepeda could face up to 150 years to life if convicted of two counts of murder with a gun enhancement.
Cepeda had a robbery conviction when he was 16 and Watanabe said that would count as a third strike despite the fact that he was juvenile at the time.
Yemely Rodriguez said Cepeda's punishment is up to God.
"Punish is not the word we're looking for," she said. "Whatever happens to him is not going to bring our sister back. My mom's like, 'I'm not going to be happy about him being in there' because it's not going to bring her back with her baby."
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