Photo from Pixabay.
Photo from Pixabay.

An ex-con accused of gunning down his estranged wife in front of their 8-year-old son inside a Kohl’s store in Whittier three days before Christmas pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a murder charge.

Prosecutors allege Enrique Acosta, 41, of Whittier, killed 46-year-old Yvonne Annette Acosta after the two argued inside the store in the presence of their son .

Acosta is also charged with one count each of child abuse under circumstances likely to cause great bodily injury or death, violation of a court order, possession of a firearm by a felon and hit-and-run resulting in property damage, along with a gun allegation.

Prosecutors allege that Acosta violated a protective stay-away court order related to a 2019 domestic violence conviction.

The criminal complaint alleges that he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 2000, and online court records indicate that he was sentenced to 12 years in prison as a result of a guilty plea in that case, which was filed in 1998.

Officers were called about 5:30 p.m. Dec. 22 to Whittwood Town Center on Whittier Boulevard near Santa Gertrudes Avenue after getting reports that shots were fired inside Kohl’s, according to the Whittier Police Department.

Yvonne Acosta was found on the floor inside the store and died at the scene.

Her estranged husband collided with the victim’s parked car as he fled in his vehicle, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Acosta was taken into custody the next day in the Barstow area and booked on suspicion of murder, with bail set at $3.1 million.

Whittier police Officer Hugo Figueroa told City News Service that Acosta and the victim had been separated for about a year.

“They were having some type of verbal argument while she was checking out and, at some point, he produced a handgun and shot her,” Figueroa alleged.

Acosta is due back in a Norwalk courtroom March 25, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial.

If convicted as charged, he could face up to 42 years and eight months to life in state prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

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