SAN DIEGO - Two suspected gang associates already jailed on unrelated charges were booked Thursday on suspicion of taking part in an assault that left a woman fatally injured underneath an abandoned car in a City Heights alley last month.
Christina Daniel, 32, is expected to face a murder count and Marco Antonio Gutierrez, 29, charges of assault and hit-and-run in connection with the April 20 death of former National City resident Jasmine Ruiz, according to San Diego police.
Shortly after 10 a.m. that day, officers responding to reports of a disturbance and traffic accident in an access road off the 4100 block of Wilson Avenue found Ruiz mortally wounded beneath a damaged and unoccupied 1993 Toyota Camry. She died at the scene.
Witnesses described hearing an argument between several people just prior to the crash and seeing a pair of men and a bloodied woman running out of the area in different directions, Lt. Manny Del Toro said.
An autopsy determined that the 29-year-old victim had been stabbed, and investigators believe that Daniel is responsible for that assault, the lieutenant said. Evidence indicates that Gutierrez was behind the wheel of the car that struck and pinned Ruiz, according to Del Toro.
The identity of the second man seen fleeing the alley and his role in the incident remain unknown.
Detectives have not determined a motive for the fatal assault, Del Toro told news crews. Police believe the suspects have gang ties and that the victim did, as well, but investigators do not think those involvements played a direct role in the deadly confrontation, he said.
The dispute that immediately preceded Ruiz's death seems to have mostly involved the two women, the lieutenant said. The stabbing may have occurred inside the car, which the victim, who had been staying with friends in the area, had borrowed.
It is "quite possible" Ruiz was run over by the vehicle as a means of preventing her from getting away after being knifed, Del Toro said.
Police found blood on the ground in the alley and on the Camry, which had dragged Ruiz underneath it for 10 or 12 feet before smashing to a stop into a telephone pole.
The lieutenant said he had no information about the criminal charges that led to the suspects' arrests by a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force last week.
Daniel and Gutierrez are scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon in the homicide case.