A Desert Hot Springs man accused of shooting his ex-girlfriend in the leg through a window as she slept in her Palm Springs apartment re-entered a not guilty plea Monday to an attempted murder charge.
Sergio Juan Marques, 41, was arrested about 6 1/2 months after the June 8, 2019, shooting at the Palos Verdes Villas apartment complex at 392 E. Stevens Road.
In a preliminary hearing earlier this month at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Otis Sterling ruled that prosecutors presented sufficient evidence for the defendant to proceed to trial.
Along with attempted murder, Marques is charged with count each of spousal abuse, shooting at a dwelling and assault on a person causing great bodily injury, along with several sentence-enhancing allegations.
Marques could be sentenced to 32 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Jovanna Tapia testified that she dated the defendant for about three months before breaking up with him. She said he had become overly possessive and jealous, and in one instance slapped her.
“I asked him to leave one night and from that moment everything changed,” she said.
Tapia alleged that after the break-up, Marques began stalking her, and even once texted her a picture of a handgun.
Tapia said that on the day of the shooting, she was sleeping when she awoke about 2 a.m. to pain in her thigh and saw her first-floor bedroom sliding glass window shattered. She then yelled for her young daughter, who was sleeping in the next room, to call 911.
Police arrived shortly afterward and found the victim wounded, but no suspects at the scene, according to Palm Springs Police Department Detective Edman Escallada.
Police found .45-caliber rounds at the scene, Escallada said. A handgun of the same caliber was later located in a vehicle belonging to the defendant, the detective testified.
Police also used the defendant’s cellphone number to place him near the victim’s apartment at the time of the shooting, according to Deputy District Attorney Michael Tripp.
Tapia testified she did not see who shot her, but told police that Marques was the probable shooter based on his alleged stalking behavior.
Marques’ roommate told police that the defendant had asked her if she “could hire or find somebody to shoot Ms. Tapia,” Escallada testified.
The defendant allegedly told his roommate repeatedly that he wanted somebody to shoot his ex-girlfriend in order to scare her into leaving him alone after alleging she was in fact bothering him, according to Escallada.
He was eventually arrested Jan. 24 at a home in Desert Hot Springs.
Marques, who has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County, remains behind bars in lieu of $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. He is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 28.
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