Husband charged with killing wife and her sister in Escondido

VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - A North County prosecutor told a judge at an emotional hearing Tuesday that the husband accused of killing his estranged wife and her sister in Escondido admitted to the murders with qualifiers.

Juan Carlos Ortega, 33, appeared in Vista court at an arraignment for last week’s deaths. 

Firefighters found the body of 26-year-old Ana Soto in a burning white SUV at the corner of Country Club and Kauana Loa drives in the Harmony Grove area Thursday morning.

RELATED: Escondido police: Burned-out SUV tied to home where woman was found dead

A trace on the SUV’s license plate led to a home on West 11th Avenue, where police found the body of Veronica Soto Ortega. Two young children were sleeping inside the house and taken into protective custody.

About 14 hours after the discovery of his wife’s body, homicide detectives arrested Soto Ortega's husband, Juan Carlos Ortega, at his Carlsbad workplace, police said.

Ortega is being held without bail. He is being charged with two counts of capital murder, which carry the possibility of the death penalty or life in prison without parole. There is also a special circumstance of lying in wait. 

RELATED: Suspect arrested in connection with deaths of 2 women in Escondido

Dozens of family members attended Tuesday’s arraignment. The mother of one of the victims became emotional and had to be carried from the courtroom.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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