Death penalty out in trial of alleged gang member charged with murder

Prosecutors won’t seek the death penalty against an alleged gang member charged in a shootout in Escondido that killed a woman driving home from church, it was announced March 29.

Dionicio Torrez Jr., 25, is charged with murder, a special circumstance gang allegation, attempted murder of rival gang members, and shooting at an occupied vehicle in connection with the death of 55-year-old Catherine Kennedy.

Torrez will face life in prison without parole if convicted at a trial scheduled for May 22, said Deputy District Attorney Laurie Hauf.

The victim was found shortly after 9 p.m. on March 7, 2017, alongside eastbound Grand Avenue near Midway Drive, suffering a gunshot wound to her head. Her silver Toyota Camry crashed into a parked vehicle.

Investigators believe Kennedy was struck by a stray bullet fired by one of at least two gang members shooting at each other. Kennedy was taken to Palomar Medical Center, where she died.

A 16-year-old boy was also arrested in the case and charged in Juvenile Court.

— City News Service

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