A probationer accused of killing a 71-year-old woman during a domestic conflict at his family’s Murrieta home pleaded not guilty Friday to murder.
Jacob Aaron Lepe, 21, was arrested July 9 following the alleged attack that claimed the life of Vilma Lopez of Bell Gardens.
Along with the murder count, Lepe is charged with a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony.
He was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Aug. 30 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
Lepe is being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
According to Murrieta police Lt. Mark Reid, a domestic squabble erupted about 11 a.m. on July 9 at the defendant’s family home in the 23000 block of Abury Avenue, just west of Interstate 15.
Reid said one of the occupants left the property and called 911.
The lieutenant alleged that Lepe was “being aggressive toward relatives,” who feared for their safety.
Reid said when patrol officers arrived, they found the defendant adjacent to the house, “covered in blood” and standing over Lopez, whose connection to Lepe remains unclear.
The defendant allegedly refused officers’ orders to drop to his knees and surrender peacefully, prompting them to deploy a Taser, after which he gave up, according to Reid.
Lepe has a prior misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence of drugs in 2017, according to court records.
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