Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A Montebello man was ordered Thursday to stand trial for allegedly killing his wife and stuffing her body in the trunk of a car, then disappearing with four of their children, sparking a statewide Amber Alert that ended with a freeway standoff in San Diego County just over a year ago.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Leslie A. Swain found sufficient evidence to require Daniel Diego Perez, 44, to proceed to trial on one count each of murder and evading and four counts each of kidnapping and child abuse.

The judge rejected a motion by defense attorney Eber Bayona to dismiss any of the charges.

Perez was ordered to remain jailed in lieu of nearly $1.8 million bail while awaiting arraignment Dec. 31.

Perez is accused of killing his wife, Erica, on Dec. 5, 2014, and leaving her body in the trunk of a car that was parked near the family’s home.

Deputy Medical Examiner Paul Gliniecki testified that the 39-year-old woman’s cause of death was probable asphyxia due to manual strangulation. He told the judge that Erica Perez also suffered multiple traumatic injuries, and that he believed she had been beaten before being strangled.

Four of the couple’s children — then ranging in age from 6 to 11 — were in the car being driven by Perez as he was being pursued by 15 police cars with their lights flashing, according to Deputy District Attorney Miji Vellakkatel.

“He lied to the kids. He knew Erica was dead because he killed her,” the prosecutor told the judge.

Perez’s attorney countered that the prosecution had not met its burden in proving its case.

The defense lawyer told reporters last year that his client was defending himself, saying that Erica Perez attacked her husband with a knife.

Perez was arrested following a standoff Dec. 11 on a Santee-area freeway ramp.

Perez’s 2014 Toyota Camry was located by police in El Cajon as a result of a LoJack tracking device on the vehicle.

Police tried to stop the car, but Perez drove off, with four children in the vehicle. He stopped around in the middle of the eastbound state Route 52 connector road to southbound state Route 67 in Santee and two children ran toward officers positioned behind Perez’s car.

Perez remained in the vehicle for about an hour with two other children before the three got out of the car and police tackled the struggling Perez and took him into custody.

The four boys were later reunited with relatives, police said.

The Perez family had not been seen since Dec. 5, and relatives had reported them missing.

Perez faces up to life in prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney’s Office

— Wire reports 

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