Prosecutors say a man accused of killing his stepmother in their Chula Vista home over the weekend first beat the victim with a TV tray and then fatally shot her.
Norberto Sanchez, 55, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon in the death of his stepmother, 65-year-old Maria Esther Gonzalez.
Deputy District Attorney Bree Garcia said the two were involved in an argument last Saturday, March 2, in a home on Oasis Avenue they share with Sanchez's father.
That argument escalated for reasons not specified in court, and Sanchez attacked Maria Garcia with a TV tray, hitting her over the head with it several times, Garcia said.
Garcia said that based on Gonzalez's injuries, investigators believe she was attempting to shield her head from the blows with her hands and arms. According to Garcia, her thumb was partially severed in the attack and pieces of it were found in the lacerations on her head.
Sanchez then loaded a firearm and shot his stepmother four times, the deputy district attorney said.
The Chula Vista Police Department told NBC 7 that Sanchez called his niece after the shooting and told her that he had just killed his stepmother.
Police responded to the home just after 1:30 p.m. and found Gonzalez inside. Sanchez was arrested without incident at a different home, CVPD Sgt. David Oyos told NBC 7.
Longtime neighbor Alberto Hurtado told NBC 7 the family has lived in the home for many years and that Sanchez has lived there off and on.
"From what I hear, there's been conflict in the house for a while and he wasn't very stable," Hurtado said. "Then this happened."
He said anything little thing could set the suspect off.
Investigators told NBC 7 they found several guns in the home.
Sanchez faces one count of first-degree murder with a special allegation he used a firearm, and one count of assault with a deadly weapon for the initial TV tray attack.
Garcia argued Sanchez's bail should be raised to $5 million due to the violence involved in the attack. The judge set it at $2 million.
If convicted of both charges, Sanchez could face 50 years to life in prison. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 29.