Escondido Woman Killed in Gang Shooting Mourned, Suspect Faces Judge

Dionicio Crespin Torrez, Jr., pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail

A suspected gang member, accused of shooting and killing an Escondido woman on her way home from a church event made his first court appearance Friday.

Prosecutors allege Dionicio Crespin Torrez, Jr., 24, was the sole gunman in the shooting that took Catherine Kennedy's life.

Torrez faces one count of murder, one count of attempted murder of rival gang members and two counts of shooting at an occupied vehicle.

Because of the alleged gang affiliation, Torrez faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of the charges.

He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail.

"The no bail is appropriate given the facts of his case," said Deputy District Attorney Laurie Hauf. "The serious charges and the special allegations, special circumstance allegation that was filed."

Parishoners of St. Timothy's Church gathered Friday before 11 a.m. for a rosary service held in honor of Kennedy.

Officials said Kennedy was struck and killed by a bullet fired by the suspects, believed to be gang members. She was driving along Grand Avenue on March 7 on her way home from a church event.

Officers also arrested a second suspect, a juvenile. The 16 year old will face a judge Monday, Escondido police said. A San Diego County Deputy District Attorney said the juvenile is believed to have been an accomplice, not the shooter.

"This has been a wake up call for the Escondido community," Hauf said. "We hope that anybody who has any further information, Comes forward. We are still taking information. it is not too late. This is a top priority for the district attorney's office."

Torrez's next appearance in court will be on March 28.

Both suspects will be charged with her murder. 

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