Opening statements set in trial of gang member accused in death of woman leaving Escondido church

VISTA, Calif. (CNS) - Opening statements are scheduled Tuesday in the trial of a documented Escondido gang member accused of shooting at rivals but instead killing a passing motorist after she left a weekly Bible study at a local church.

Dionicio Torrez Jr., 25, is charged with murder, a special-circumstance gang allegation, attempted murder of rival gang members, and shooting at an occupied vehicle in connection with the death of 55-year-old Catherine Kennedy. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

The victim was found shortly after 9 p.m. on March 7, 2017, alongside eastbound Grand Avenue near Midway Drive, suffering a gunshot wound to her head. Her silver Toyota Camry crashed into a parked vehicle.

According to evidence presented at a preliminary hearing last year, Torrez was chasing two members of a rival gang who had been spotted tagging in an apartment complex where Torrez lived. As the rivals were about to run to a car across the street, Torrez allegedly opened fire.

A 16-year-old boy was also arrested in the case and charged in Juvenile Court.

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