Victor Serritano pleaded not guilty in Solano County Superior Court on Monday morning to two murders and arson charges while being indicted on his current 2020 manslaughter charge. In connection with the murder of a 32-year-old Vallejo woman in Vacqueville in mid-August.
He attended a readiness for the convention and at the Justice Center in Fairfield, Judge Carlos R. Gutierrez will return to the department on November 15 at 8:30 a.m. for a preliminary hearing in the courtroom.
The felony case against Serritano, 29, of Vacaville, made widespread Bay and Sacramento area news when the charges were amended in late April, when the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, working with Cal fire investigators, said Alleging that the defendant not only killed Priscilla Castro, 32, Vallejo K. He also set her body on fire in wooded areas of Solano and Napa counties, which started the Markle Fire, which joined the Hennessy Fire, which later became the LNU Lightning Complex fire and killed two people.
Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams filed new charges against Cerritano after an eight-month investigation and later appeared in court with Cerritano’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Felicia Carrington.
The new charges escalate the case to special circumstances.
In an email to The Reporter on Monday, Abrams cited Section 190.2 of the Penal Code, noting that the possible punishment in a state prison without the possibility of parole is death or life imprisonment, therefore making Ceritano eligible for the death penalty. has gone.
“However, after the court hears the evidence at the preliminary hearing and the defense has an opportunity to present its statement of mitigation, our office will make an informed decision about the appropriate sentence and make a choice at that time,” he added.
Court records indicate that on May 21, Cerritano’s lawyer filed a challenge to disqualify Gutierrez from hearing the case. However, Gutierrez still appears to be the judge of record presiding over the case.
As worded in a press statement, Cerritano’s latest court appearance follows Sheriff Tom Ferrara’s April press conference about the month-long investigation that the source of the Marklee Fire was arson “and the Solano County death toll from that fire.” Now considered murder.”
The Markle Fire began in the Stebbins-Cold Canyon area on August 18 and merged with the Hennessy Fire, which was later incorporated into the overall LNU Lightning Complex.
Two fire victims were later found dead in their homes in unincorporated Solano County as a result of the fire: Douglas Mae, 82, in the 7400 block of Pleasant Valley Road; and Leon “James” Bone, 64, in the 7800 block of English Hills Road.
Additionally, Castro’s body was discovered in the Stebins-Cold Canyon area and led to the arrest of Cerritano in Santa Clara in mid-September. He was charged with murder and is lodged in the Solano County Jail.
Based on an extensive investigation, Sheriff’s Office officials believe that Cerritano deliberately set off the Markle Fire in an attempt to hide Castro’s death, according to the press release.
In April sheriff’s detectives arrested Cerritano on additional charges, including murder and arson, and Abrams added four additional charges and three charges against Cerritano, including “special charges” that carry the death penalty or life imprisonment to prosecutors. Can demand punishment. possibility of parole.
In the amended criminal complaint, Cerritano faces one count of arson of an inhabited structure or property, in addition to Castro’s first-degree murder; arson during a state of emergency (as declared by Governor Gavin Newsom); Two counts of murder for the deaths of Mai and Bon; And there are allegations that the killings were committed during an arson and Cerritano had previously been indicted for a prior strike in 2015: assault with a deadly weapon.
As previously reported, the Solano County DA’s office filed its initial complaint against Cerritano on September 15, accusing him of killing Castro on August 16.
Police records indicate that, on the night of August 18, Vacaville police officers responded to a call from an abandoned vehicle in the 100 block of Bush Street near Andrews Park.
According to a statement from the Vacaville Police Department, the vehicle belonging to Castro was reported missing hours earlier to the Oakland Police Department by concerned family members, who had not been able to reach it for two days.
“With her cell phone turned off and no activity on her social media accounts, her disappearance led to the deployment of detectives, who launched a thorough investigation in search of answers,” Lieutenant Mark Donaldson said in the release at the time.
During the investigation, detectives learned that Castro had reportedly met Serritano online and arranged to meet in Vacaville for a date on August 16.
According to Donaldson, Cerritano lived on Vine Street and through interviews with the suspect, detectives learned that Castro and Cerritano had met at their home.
Donaldson also said that area traffic cameras captured Castro in his vehicle, which was driving off Depot Street, then west on Monte Vista Avenue, toward Vine Street on August 16 at 5:49 p.m. was growing. This was also the last time. He will be seen alive.
“What we believe is that they met online and agreed to a pre-determined date,” Donaldson said during an interview. “She went to her house on Vine Street, and sometime later that evening the vehicle turns onto Bush Street, the parks, and a short time later, a man leaves her and heads in the direction of Vine Street.”
Detectives interviewed Cerritano once before his arrest after obtaining Castro’s cell phone records and learned that the suspect was the last person he had phone contact with and determined that he was the person interested in the disappearance. .
“We just know that the last person alive with him was Serritano,” Donaldson said during the interview.
Using cell phone data and analytical software, detectives were able to place the suspect on August 16 in the area of the Homestead Trail at the base of the Monticello Dam near Lake Berrysa, the same area where the LNU Lightning Complex fire burned on Aug. According to the police statement 19.
Once the detectives received the information obtained through a search warrant, it took them to that area on 2 September and a grid search was carried out and investigators found a badly burnt body.
According to the department’s prepared statement, using analysis of DNA and evidence collected from the scene, the Solano County Coroner’s Office was able to obtain a positive identification and found it to be a homicide.