Gang member convicted of murder in shooting death of passing driver

VISTA (KUSI) — An Escondido gang member was convicted Friday of first- degree murder for firing shots intended for rivals but instead striking and killing a passing motorist as she headed home from Bible study at her church.

After a two-week trial, jurors also found true a special circumstance allegation that 55-year-old Cathy Kennedy was killed while the defendant, 25- year-old Dionicio Torrez Jr., was an active member of a street gang.

Torrez faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Dec. 20. The defendant also was convicted of attempted murder and shooting at an occupied vehicle.

Deputy District Attorney Laurie Hauf said Torrez fired across a street 12 rounds intended for rivals the night of March 7, 2017. One of those bullets hit Kennedy in the head, and she died at a hospital.

Defense attorney Alejandro Morales said the prosecution’s case rested on the word of a 16-year-old boy who was with Torrez that night.

The juvenile — who took a plea deal — was the one who fired the shots, Morales told the jury.

Hauf said two rival gang members were spotted tagging the apartment complex where Torrez and the teenager lived about 9 p.m.

Torrez chased the rivals — followed by the 16-year-old — and Torrez opened fire, according to the prosecutor.

The victim was found alongside eastbound Grand Avenue near Midway Drive. Her silver Toyota Camry crashed into a parked vehicle.

Categories: Local San Diego News