Trial date set for man accused of killing girlfriend

BANNING – A Nov. 29 trial date was confirmed Friday, Nov. 3, for a Hemet man accused of killing his girlfriend and keeping her body in his SUV until he was located by police.

Vincent James Marples, 34, was arrested in January for the alleged slaying of 32-year-old Cassandra Taylor, whose remains were located in his Ford Explorer.

During a status hearing Friday at the Banning Justice Center, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Johnson scheduled trial proceedings to begin Nov. 29 after the prosecution and defense agreed to work to clear their calendars.

It remained uncertain whether pretrial motions and related matters could be wrapped up before the Christmas break.

Marples is charged with first-degree murder, burglary and a special circumstance allegation of inflicting torture in the commission of a murder.

The District Attorney’s Office has not announced whether it will seek the death penalty.

Marples is being held without bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.

According to Hemet police Lt. Eddie Pust, on the afternoon of Jan. 24, officers were alerted that Marples had called a relative stating that Taylor was dead and that he was with her, without disclosing where.

“The caller was able to provide a vehicle description and a general area that Marples frequents,” Pust said.

A county sheriff’s helicopter crew was requested to assist patrol officers in searching for the SUV, according to Pust.

Pust said that nearly two hours later, the air unit spotted the Ford Explorer on a hillside southeast of the intersection of Gibbel Road and State Street. Officers swarmed the location and took the defendant into custody without incident. Taylor’s body was found in the back of the vehicle.

“Further investigation revealed that an altercation occurred between the two subjects, who were at the location sometime within the past 24 hours,” Pust said. “The altercation resulted in the death of Taylor.”

Investigators did not disclose the means by which she was killed.

According to court records, Marples has prior misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence, driving under the influence and manufacturing an illegal firearm. He also has several other felony cases pending in Riverside County Superior Court for alleged witness intimidation and making terrorist threats.

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