A convicted felon who allegedly attempted to strangle his girlfriend and her two children at their Riverside home, then fled to Mexico where he spent years in hiding, pleaded not guilty Monday to three counts of attempted murder.
Leopoldo Martinez Garcia was arrested last month by Mexican state police in Michoacan.
Along with the attempted murder counts, Garcia is charged with two counts of child abuse, and one count each of attempted torture, false imprisonment, making criminal threats, assault with a firearm and witness intimidation.
He was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Eric Keen, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for July 24 at the Riverside Hall of Justice. The defendant is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Indio Jail.
According to Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback, on Aug. 23, 2004, Garcia became enraged with his then-girlfriend, whose identity was not released, during an argument in her residence in the 2700 block of Iris Street, where he allegedly choked her until she fell unconscious.
Railsback alleged that the defendant also choked and beat the woman’s 1-year-old and 4-year-old children.
“While holding up a shotgun, Garcia threatened to kill the victim and one of her kids and also put the second child inside a dryer appliance,” Railsback said.
The convicted felon allegedly held the family for hours until the woman was able to grab her two kids and slip out of the home to call 911, according to the police spokesman.
When patrol officers reached the residence, Garcia was gone, and a search of the area turned up nothing.
Investigators believe he immediately fled south of the border and changed his identity.
Railsback said the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, which includes Riverside police detectives, was instrumental in tracking down the wanted man after his nearly 15 years on the run. The methods used to pinpoint his location were not disclosed.
Court records indicate Garcia has two prior convictions, but the offenses occurred in another jurisdiction and were not specified.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: