A man accused of setting a homeless man on fire in San Diego's Oak Park neighborhood was held without bail at his arraignment Wednesday as the man he ignited fights for his life at a hospital.
Jose R. Garibay, 26, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation and aggrevated mayhem and torture at his Wednesday arraignment. A judge ordered the press to tilize his face due to identity issues as the investigation continues.
SDPD officers say Garibay lured 39-year-old Julio Caesar Edeza to his truck without warning, doused him in a flammable liquid and lit him on fire. The incident happened at noon Sunday on Pentecost Way in San Diego's Oak Park neighborhood near a Rite Aid, just north of State Route 94, officers said.
Garibay fled the scene, but he was later arrested in his car on Estrella Avenue after police put out a composite sketch of the suspect and a photo of his truck.
Edeza's aunt, Irma Aguilera, who was in court Wednesday, said only a person full of hate would set someone on fire like that.
Detectives believe the crime was random, as it doesn't appear Garibay and Edeza knew one another.
"For this to happen to him, was just horrible," Aguilera said after the court appearance.
Edeza's family, including his two sisters, have been with him at the hospital. They said he is a loving, funny, generous man and although he didn't have much he shared what he could.
Edeza suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to UC San Diego's Burn Center, police said.
Edeza has third-degree burns to 85 percent of his body and is in a medically-induced coma according to his family. Police say he is not expected to survive.
"We're having faith in God that he will go through this," she said, tearing up. "He's just there, trying to fight for his life."
Aguilera said her nephew may have been homeless from time-to-time, but he has a family that loves him and cares for him.
She thanked law enforcement and the public for helping catch the suspect so quickly.
Edeza's cousin and niece said Edeza has a 14-year old son and family was the most important thing to him. He's a religious man and loves to cook and has a culinary certification.
If convicted, Garibay faces a life sentence.
Should the victim die, it could become a death penalty case with the special circumstance of torture.
Anyone with any information on the location or possible owner of this vehicle can notify the San Diego Police Department (619) 531-2000, Homicide Team 5. Witnesses with information wishing to remain anonymous can also contact Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.