Not guilty plea from woman accused of gunning down ex-lover in Imperial Beach

CHULA VISTA (CNS) – A 24-year-old San Diego woman accused of fatally shooting her ex-lover inside his Imperial Beach apartment after stalking and harassing him for a year pleaded not guilty today to a murder charge.

Vegas Batallya Bray — who's in custody in lieu of $2 million bail — faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Harrison Kennedy.

“This was the ultimate act of obsession,” the prosecutor told Judge Katherine Bacal in arguing that Bray be held without bail in the death of 31-year-old Victor Saucedo.

Kennedy said the defendant's behavior over the past few months was “especially concerning.”

The prosecutor said Bray and Saucedo met while they were both in the Navy, and they started dating in 2010. The relationship lasted for several months and ended toward the later part of last year, Kennedy said.

“They broke up apparently because Ms. Vegas was jealous over the mother of Mr. Saucedo's child, and she continued to pursue him after they broke up,” Kennedy said.

Bray committed seven acts of vandalism against Saucedo's car and apartment, including popping his car tires, throwing paint on his door, smearing peanut butter on his door, and even tracking him down after he changed apartments, the prosecutor alleged.

On Monday night, the couple had some “social interaction” in which there was talk of rekindling the relationship, but Saucedo said he wasn't interested in the long-term committed relationship that Bray wanted, Kennedy said.

Bray felt “spurned” and left the victim's apartment the next morning, the prosecutor said.

Around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Bray allegedly returned to Saucedo's apartment armed with a .38-caliber revolver and minutes later, neighbors reported hearing a series of gunshots, Kennedy said.

Bray called 911, indicating Saucedo had committed suicide, but investigators found the victim with nine gunshot wounds and a loaded gun next to him.

Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Slattery told the judge that Bray was a lifelong San Diegan and college student who had no criminal record and worked as a waitress at a Lemon Grove strip club.

Santiago Rubio, 21, said his sister is “the sweetest, most caring person in the whole world. She's always ready to help. She's helped out everybody in my family.”

Rubio said his sister is not the “monster” she's been made out to be.

“She's an angel,” Rubio told reporters. “She's the best thing that's ever happened to me.”

Saucedo served in the Navy for 12 years and had a 6-year-old son, Jeremiah. Friends and family said he left the Navy in January to spend more time with his son and to pursue higher education so he could go into law enforcement.

At a candlelight vigil attended by about 60 people Wednesday night, Jeremiah's maternal grandmother said Saucedo had tried to get a restraining order against Bray but was told he did not have enough evidence. She also said he feared for his life and purchased life insurance policy for his son just two weeks ago.

A readiness conference was set for Oct. 29 and a preliminary hearing for Nov. 1.

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