Man who murdered three sentenced to death

MURRIETA – A death sentence was imposed today on a Perris man who fatally stabbed a dog owner and later killed a mother and daughter in apparent thrill kills that the defendant perpetrated near his home.
A Murrieta jury in March recommended that 29-year-old David Rey Contreras receive capital punishment for the slayings of 53-year-old Jose Apreza, 51-year-old Maria Gonzalez and her 25-year-old daughter, Consuelo “Connie” Gonzalez, just over four years ago.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Monterosso followed the panel’s recommendation during a sentencing hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
The same jurors who returned death verdicts also found Contreras guilty March 8 of three counts of first-degree murder, and found true a special circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders.
According to Deputy District Attorney Dan DeLimon, there was no readily identifiable motive behind the deadly attacks, which appeared to be acts of violence that the defendant committed for his own entertainment.
The first fatal assault was on Dec. 29, 2012, near Evans Road and Orange Avenue in Perris. The victim, Apreza, had gone out that morning to walk his pit bull and was reported missing by his wife when he didn’t return in a few hours, sheriff’s investigators said.
One of the deputies dispatched to search for the missing man spotted a body in an open field – later confirmed to be Apreza’s – with a dog standing nearby.
When the deputy approached, the pit bull reportedly lunged at him, prompting the lawman to shoot and kill the animal.
Coroner’s officials later confirmed Apreza was stabbed multiple times in his chest, back and thighs. Investigators surmised his dog was roaming elsewhere else when the stabbing happened.
On the evening of Feb. 4, 2013, Maria Gonzalez and her daughter left their Nuevo home to take a stroll along Central Avenue and a short time later were confronted by a man, who attacked them both with a knife, according to investigators. Deputies arrived within minutes and found the victims lying on a
sidewalk between Ramona and Rosary avenues.
Connie Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene. Her mother was taken to Menifee Valley Medical Center, where she died less than an hour later.
Witnesses reported seeing a young man in dark clothing fleeing the area and provided specific identifying details – including the fact the perpetrator was wearing a back brace similar to what a construction worker might use – that proved pivotal to the investigation, according to DeLimon.
A week later, a deputy parked on Central saw Contreras walking toward him, matching the assailant’s description and wearing a brace. He detained Contreras without incident.
The defendant was arrested for carrying a concealed knife, which he’d allegedly hidden inside the brace. A dog leash was also found in his possession that belonged to Apreza, according to the prosecution.
Contreras was jailed on a felony weapon allegation and spent several months behind bars until his attorney offered a plea deal directly to the court, resulting in a sentence of probation.
According to the prosecution, during and after the time the defendant was in custody, DNA tests were conducted on his shoes and the leash, which contained blood stains.
The time-consuming process resulted in sufficient evidence to warrant murder charges, and Contreras was re-arrested without incident at his family’s Wilson Avenue home on Aug. 7, 2013.

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