A registered sex offender pleaded not guilty Monday to capital murder in the 1980 killing of a pregnant 20-year-old newlywed who was found dead on a beach in Palos Verdes Estates.
Robert Yniguez was ordered back to court on Nov. 29, when a date is expected to be set for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for him to proceed to trial for allegedly killing Teresa Broudreaux of Wilmington, who was the mother of a 4-year-old girl.
The murder charge includes a special circumstance allegation of murder during commission of a rape, making the 65-year-old San Pedro resident eligible for the death penalty if convicted. Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek capital punishment for Yniguez, who is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
Sheriff’s officials said shortly after Yniguez’ arrest that DNA evidence linked him to the crime.
The construction worker — who is married and has a family — was convicted in 1982 of a sexual assault in the South Bay area and served about eight years of a 12-year prison term, according to sheriff’s Homicide Bureau Detective Ralph Hernandez.
Yniguez also had been arrested in February 1981 in connection with another sexual assault, but that case was eventually dropped due to a lack of cooperation on the alleged victim’s part, Hernandez said. He said the 1981 attack had a “very similar modus of operandi as to what we believe happened” to Broudreaux, who was found naked and bleeding from the head in the early morning hours of March 4, 1980, after Palos Verdes Estates police responded to a call of a female lying on Malaga Cove Beach.
Investigators do not believe Yniguez and Broudreaux knew each other.
“We can’t actually say if a sexual assault occurred,” Hernandez told reporters at a September news conference to announce the arrest, but added, “I believe the possible motive to be sexual assault.”
The woman’s husband, Ronnie Fematt, told reporters he had “been waiting a long time for this day,” and thanked his family for believing in him and sheriff’s investigators for their work on the case.
Investigators determined that the victim had an argument with her husband the night before, walked to her sister’s home and was never seen alive again after leaving her sister’s residence.
A “series of coincidences” and new DNA technology “produced an unexpected break in the case,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.
“Often these cases wait for a powerful combination of a detective who never gives up, a witness with a guilty conscience or a suspect with a self- serving interest, or in this case new DNA technology,” he said last month. “The murder of Teresa Broudreaux went unsolved for more than 37 years until now.”
DNA testing in 2013 linked Yniguez to the crime scene, according to Hernandez, who said it was the oldest murder case he had investigated.
The detective — who described Yniguez as being “upset” at the time of his arrest — said he had been interviewed twice and “knew that at some point we would be seeking criminal charges with the District Attorney’s Office.”
–City News Service
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