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Couple headed to trial in 2011 Deep Creek murder
VICTORVILLE • An Apple Valley couple is headed to a murder trial after they gave contradicting stories about how their acquaintance was shot to death near Deep Creek.
After a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Victorville Superior Court Judge Lynn Poncin ruled there was probable cause to believe Joseph Villa, 24, and Angela Lucia Sanchez, 39, committed the crime.
Preliminary hearings are held for judges to decide whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence to move the case forward toward a jury trial.
On May 17, 2011, a passerby found the severely injured victim, 19-year-old Raquel Rayas, of Hesperia, in the desert near Deep Creek. She was still alive but unconscious, Detective Ryan Ford said. Rayas was flown to Antelope Valley Hospital but later died from gunshot wounds to the head and neck.
Sheriff's detectives investigated for nearly six months before they arrested Villa and Sanchez in November 2011.
During his interview with detectives, Villa gave three different stories about the shooting, Ford testified.
He initially denied any involvement in the shooting, Ford said. According to Villa, he and Rayas had sex on occasion. He dropped the victim off at her house the day before she died and didn’t see her again, Villa said, according to Ford.
Villa then changed his story, describing how a love triangle led to Sanchez shooting Rayas.
Sanchez and Rayas began fighting over Villa at his residence, Villa said. The three drove toward Deep Creek, while the women continued fighting in the car, Villa said. When they got to a remote area, the women got out of the car before Sanchez shot Rayas, Villa said.
Finally, Villa told detectives that he and Sanchez got into an argument with Rayas because the victim stole his items.
The three drove to Deep Creek, and when Rayas denied stealing his property, Villa shot her in the neck, Villa said, according to Ford.
In a separate interview, Sanchez told detectives that Villa and Rayas got into an argument at the residence. Sanchez drove Villa and Rayas toward Deep Creek following Villa’s instruction.
The three got out of the car, and Villa and Rayas continued yelling and screaming, Sanchez said. Sanchez said she tried to calm him down, but Villa pulled out a gun and shot Rayas twice.
Investigators recovered one shell casing at the crime scene and it was consistent with a gun and cartridges found at Villa’s residence, Ford said.
As Ford testified on the stand Wednesday, Villa swiveled his chair restlessly, while Sanchez sat still, leaning on the arm rest.
Poncin denied the Daily Press’ request to take photos during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing.
The District Attorney’s office charged both Villa and Sanchez with murder. Prosecutors alleged Villa to be the shooter, according to the felony complaint.
If convicted, Villa could face up to 50 years to life in prison and Sanchez up to 25 years to life.
They were ordered to return to Victorville court Jan. 22 for arraignment.
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