Death Penalty Not Pursued For Fatal Shooting On I-10 - Palm Springs News, Weather, Traffic, Breaking News

Death Penalty Not Pursued For Fatal Shooting On I-10

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Coachella, CA -

Prosecutors have decided not to pursue the death penalty against two men accused in the fatal shooting of a Coachella woman, the ex-girlfriend of one of the defendants, who prosecutors say was killed in a car-to-car shooting on Interstate 10 after she was seen with a new boyfriend.

Damian De Los Santos, 23, and Andrew Castro, 20, are accused in the May 8, 2016 shooting death of De Los Santos' ex-girlfriend, 19-year-old Maria Guadalupe Mendoza.

Prosecutors filed paperwork Wednesday indicating that capital punishment would not be pursued against the pair, leaving them facing life without the possibility of parole if convicted of charges that include murder, attempted murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle and a special circumstance allegation of discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle with intent to murder.

The victim was allegedly shot by her ex-boyfriend De Los Santos after he saw her with her new boyfriend in the parking lot of a Cathedral City convenience store on the afternoon of May 8.

According to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant prepared by sheriff's investigator Steven Paixao, Mendoza was waiting to be picked up by her new boyfriend at the AM/PM gas station and convenience store at 27900 Date Palm Drive.

When the man arrived, De Los Santos allegedly approached and lifted his shirt, showing the boyfriend a revolver tucked in his waistband and threatening to kill him. The boyfriend sped away in his car with Mendoza, but De Los Santos and Castro allegedly followed them onto eastbound Interstate 10.

With Castro driving, De Los Santos allegedly fired multiple shots at the boyfriend's car, including one that passed through Mendoza's body and lodged in her boyfriend's leg.

Before she died at a hospital, Mendoza told CHP officers that someone named Damian shot her, Paixao wrote. De Los Santos also sent a Facebook message to the boyfriend afterward, saying he would shoot him too, according to the declaration.

Castro was arrested May 9 after sheriff's investigators obtained his license plate number by reviewing surveillance footage from the convenience store. Two .44-caliber Remington Magnum shell casings were found inside Castro's car, consistent with the type of gun described to deputies by Mendoza's boyfriend, Paixao wrote.

De Los Santos was arrested May 12 in Mexicali by members of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, Coachella Valley Violent Crime Gang Task Force and District Attorney's Organized Crime Bureau.

Castro has no prior felony convictions in Riverside County. However, De Los Santos has multiple convictions, including receiving a stolen vehicle and second-degree burglary, according to court records.

The men are due to return to court April 6 for a felony settlement conference.

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