A 47-year-old man alleged to have fatally shot his stepmother and half-brother in Imperial Beach last month plead not guilty to murder and other charges. 

Last year on Dec.4, Marco Antionio Valadez Jr. was accused of killing his stepmother Raquel Pitsenberger, 55, and her 34-year-old son Marco “Tony” Valadez Jr. Prosecutors allege the murders were intended to cover up sexual crimes he committed days earlier. 

According to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, the alleged murders stemmed from a confrontation “in which (Valadez) was trying to silence family members who were potential witnesses” to an alleged sexual assault of an 18-year-old family member that occurred two days prior.

In a statement, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan called the case “one of the most disturbing crimes committed in San Diego County in 2021.”

The victims were found fatally wounded inside a home in the 1300 block of Fern Avenue shortly before 4:30 p.m. According to sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Seiver, Pitsenberger died at the scene. Both victims sustained gunshot wounds, but the assailant had taken off before deputies arrived at the scene. 

Tony was rushed to the hospital by paramedics where he was pronounced dead.

On Dec.16, Valadez was arrested in Mexico and extradited to the United States where he faced a murder charge that includes special circumstance allegations for multiple murders and killing a witness. He also faces two felony sexual assault charges for the alleged sex abuse that prosecutors said led to the killings.

With these charges, Valadez could face the death penalty should prosecutors choose to pursue capital punishment. 

Valadez also has a 1998 conviction for forcible rape and faces additional allegations related to being a “habitual sex offender", according to the DA’s Office. He remains in custody without bail and is due back in court on March 28.

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