Trial Underway For Felon Accused of Killing Thermal Woman

City News Service

A Thermal woman lived in fear of her boyfriend’s son and tried to protect herself by various means, including hiding potentially dangerous weapons and barricading herself in her bedroom, before the ex-con stabbed her dozens of times, a prosecutor alleged Monday in the defendant’s murder trial.

A jury has been seated and opening statements are expected to begin for the murder trial of Raul Alcantar Sanchez Jr.

Raul Alcantar Sanchez Jr., now 41, is charged with killing 34-year-old Carolina Vargas on Nov. 21, 2012, at the mobile home she shared with the defendant and his father in the 85000 block of Middleton Street.

Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse told jurors that Sanchez stabbed the victim about 120 times — including 65 times in the face and neck.

He has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, triggering a two-phase trial expected to span multiple weeks at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

During her opening statement, the prosecutor alleged that the defendant threatened Vargas multiple times prior to killing her. She painted a picture of a victim who lived in fear of the defendant, who hated her due to her romantic relationship with his father and because she told him to do things around the house such as “picking up after himself.”

A trial brief prepared by Lofthouse lists a number of alleged threats the defendant made toward the victim such as “I’m gonna open you and eat your insides.”

According to the brief and to Lofthouse’ opening statement, Vargas would barricade her bedroom door in fear of the defendant and told others how she feared for her life. The victim and an unnamed individual cleared the residence of all sharp objects such as knives in anticipation of the defendant’s father leaving the residence for a two-week trip, according to the prosecution.

Deputies found the victim dead inside the residence and arrested Sanchez near the crime scene wearing pants that allegedly had the victim’s blood on them, according to the prosecution.

Sanchez was previously found mentally incompetent to stand trial and transferred to a state mental facility. His mental fitness was later deemed restored and criminal proceedings were restarted.

Sanchez, who is being held in lieu of $1.04 million bail at the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio, has prior felony convictions including burglary, vandalism and grand theft.

Jury Selection Set For Trial of Felon Accused of Killing Thermal Woman

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