Police at scene of shooting
San Diego Police officers at the scene of the shooting. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A man accused of gunning down his wife with a shotgun near their City Heights home was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on murder and child endangerment charges.

Fernando Avila, 30, is charged in the Dec. 5, 2019, shooting of 29- year-old Julia Serrano, the mother of his two children. Avila faces more than 50 years to life in state prison if convicted of all charges.

Court documents indicate the couple had been married for nearly seven years, but that Serrano had filed for divorce shortly before she was killed.

At Avila’s preliminary hearing, a neighbor who lived near the Avilas on 46th Street testified that she and her husband were awakened at around 5:30 a.m. by a loud argument. The nature of the argument was unclear, but she said she heard a woman yell, “Stop, let me go!”

Avila allegedly then shot Serrano once outside their home. Police say they found an expended shotgun shell and blood on the side of the couple’s vehicle, which was parked on the street just outside the residence.

After the first shot, the victim then ran to the corner of 46th Street and University Avenue, where she sat on the curb, according to testimony.

Surveillance footage captured from a nearby business showed Avila follow Serrano down the street, then shoot her a second time at point-blank range, according to prosecutors. In the footage, Avila is allegedly seen kneeling over the victim following the shot, leaving the scene briefly, then returning and kneeling down over the victim again.

Serrano died at the scene, and Avila was arrested soon after. A San Diego police officer’s body camera footage played at the preliminary hearing showed Avila handcuffed and placed into a patrol vehicle, crying, and repeatedly asking an officer whether his wife was all right.

The shotgun was located in the grass on the couple’s front lawn, police said. Divorce papers were found in the victim’s purse inside the home, according to testimony.

Avila remains held without bail and is due back in court July 27.

–City News Service