Jury selection is scheduled to begin on July 27 for the trial of a Thermal man accused of using a knife and screwdriver to a fatally stab a woman more than 120 times nearly nine years ago, it was announced Wednesday.
Raul Alcantar Sanchez Jr., 41, is suspected of killing 34-year-old Thermal resident Carolina Vargas at her home in the 85000 block of Middleton Street in November 2012.
He is charged with murder, and has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, triggering a two-phase trial expected to span multiple weeks at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
According to Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse, Sanchez allegedly stabbed the victim 125 times — including 65 times in the face.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony Villalobos ordered multiple panels of prospective jurors to begin reporting to the courthouse at the end of the month. Opening statements could be had as early as Aug. 5, according to prosuectors.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said the defendant and victim were acquaintances, but did not reveal a motive or additional details about the slaying.
Deputies found the victim dead inside her home, and arrested Sanchez near the crime scene.
Sanchez was previously found mentally incompetent to stand trial and transported to a state mental facility. His mental fitness was later restored, and criminal proceedings were restarted.
Sanchez, who remains held on $1,040,000 bail at John Benoit Detention Center in Indio, has two felony convictions for burglary, court records show.
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