Jury selection begins for man accused of killing wife and dragging body to police headquarters

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Jury selection got under way Monday for the trial of a man accused of strangling his estranged wife and driving her body to San Diego police headquarters.

Americus De Orenday, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in the September 2013 death of 40-year-old Mirella De Orenday. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Opening statements are expected sometime Wednesday.

The couple had been married nine years and separated earlier in the year, said Deputy District Attorney Leonard Trinh. The defendant, who lived in Bay Terraces, had taken out a restraining order against his estranged wife and won custody of their 8-year-old daughter and 7-year-old twins, according to the prosecutor.

The victim’s 17-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, Leslie Gutierrez, testified during an earlier hearing that her mother and the defendant argued often during their marriage, mostly about money but also about how to raise the three young children they had together.

Gutierrez said her mother had moved out of the family home and started dating a co-worker at a fast-food restaurant.

The night of Sept. 21, 2013, the defendant allegedly came by the victim’s home while she and Gutierrez were making dinner.

Gutierrez said the defendant asked her mother to step outside. When her mother failed to return, Gutierrez filed a missing persons report.

Two days later, the defendant was seen entering a Walmart in National City, where he purchased a garden hose, according to the prosecution. Five hours after that, he showed up at police headquarters in downtown San Diego, where he flagged down officers and led them to his wife’s body behind the driver’s seat of his pickup.

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