Jury selection got underway Thursday for the trial of 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.
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.
Marques, who remains in custody at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning in lieu of $1 million bail, is charged with one count each of attempted murder, spousal abuse, shooting at a dwelling and assault on a person causing great bodily injury.
He could be sentenced to 32 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to prosecutors.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Samuel Diaz summoned multiple panels of prospective jurors for screening at the Riverside Hall of Justice. Opening statements could begin as soon as Monday afternoon.
During a preliminary hearing last September, Jovanna Tapia testified that she dated Marques 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 once texted her a photo of a handgun.
She 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 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 Marques, the detective testified.
Police also used the defendant’s cell phone 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.
Marques 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 the detective.
Marques was arrested Jan. 24, 2020, at a home in Desert Hot Springs.
He has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: