A man who allegedly killed a San Diego serviceman more than 45 years ago was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on a murder charge.
Dennis Lepage, 64, is accused of strangling 28-year-old Alvaro Marquez Espeleta on Dec. 31, 1975, at the victim’s Reynard Way home.
Espeleta’s nude body was found in the bedroom of his home by co-workers, who went to check on the naval dental technician after he failed to show up for work at the Marine Corp Recruit Depot.
Lepage was also in the Navy and stationed in San Diego at the time of Espeleta’s killing, according to preliminary hearing testimony.
Defense attorney Denis Lainez maintained that Lepage acted in self-defense and claimed Espeleta attempted to rape his client, who was 18 at the time.
Lepage was arrested last year in Troy, New York. Detective Lori Adams of the San Diego Police Department’s Cold Case Unit testified that while in custody, Lepage made statements indicating that “he was fearful, he was scared. He was an 18-year-old kid and he felt that he was being raped.”
Dr. Miguel Losada, who performed the autopsy, testified that Espeleta’s cause of death was asphyxiation by strangulation, but he also said the victim sustained blunt force injuries consistent with being struck in the head multiple times.
According to testimony, Lepage was connected to the case through fingerprints and a palm print discovered on the victim’s body, and additional fingerprints found in the victim’s bathroom and on a beer bottle inside his home.
Lepage’s fingerprints were on file due to a 2010 restraining order violation arrest in Massachusetts, according to testimony.
Lepage remains in custody in lieu of $2 million bail.