The mother of the Escondido man accused of killing his estranged wife and her sister refuses to believe her son confessed to double murder, she said in an exclusive interview with Telemundo 20 and NBC 7.
Prosecutors say Juan Carlos Ortega confessed to killing his estranged wife Veronica and her sister Ana Soto.
On August 9 after 4 a.m., Ana Gabriela Soto, 26, was found inside a burned-out SUV. The plates on the SUV led investigators to a home a few miles away, where Veronica Soto Ortega, 30, Ortega’s wife, was found dead.
In a phone call from jail recorded by his family, Ortega said he never confessed to the killings.
He said his words were manipulated and possibly misunderstood, Carolina Soria Ortega said, because her son has a speech impediment.
“Mr. Ortega confessed,” said Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton. “There were some qualifiers in his confession but he essentially admitted to being there, admitting to killing both of the women.”
The tragedy involves two families, struggling to understand how and why two sisters were killed.
In the conversation from jail Tuesday night, Ortega admitted that he was at Veronica's home on West 11th street on the night of the murders.
Court records revealed he and his wife were in the process of getting a divorce. The couple's two daughters were upstairs in bed when officers discovered their mother’s body. The girls were unharmed and were taken into protective custody.
Ortega told his family that he had been drinking and the couple had fought but said he left without incident.
Prosecutors say a witness saw Ortega going back and forth between the home and the SUV.
Ortega's mother, who now lives in New Mexico said she does not know a lot about the couple's marital problems but said her son does not have a history of being violent and is grieving the loss of her daughter-in-law.
“I feel a lot of pain at everything that’s going on,” the defendant’s mother said in Spanish. “Veronica's death really hurts me because it was a relationship that we had. And I cannot imagine Juan Carlos doing that. I cannot imagine that, because that's not him.”
Ortega has been charged with two counts of murder, with a special circumstance of lying in wait. He faces life in prison, but he could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
The father of Veronica and Ana Gabriela Soto said the women were hard workers and always happy. He also said he does not support the death penalty and would rather leave Ortega's punishment up to God.
A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for some time in October. That's when we'll learn more about this case including how the sisters were killed and a possible motive.