Home where two were killed
The home in Imperial Beach where Raquel Pitsenberger and Tony Valadez Jr. were killed. Courtesy OnScene.TV

A man who allegedly shot and killed his stepmother and half-brother in Imperial Beach last month, killings which prosecutors allege were intended to cover up sexual crimes he committed days earlier, pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and other charges.

Marco Antonio Valadez Jr., 47, is accused of the Dec. 4 slayings of Raquel Pitsenberger, 55, and her 36-year-old son, Marco “Tony” Valadez Jr., who sheriff’s deputies found mortally wounded inside a home in the 1300 block of Fern Avenue shortly before 4:30 p.m.

Pitsenberger died at the scene, sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Seiver said.

Paramedics took her son to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, the alleged murders stemmed from a confrontation “in which (Valadez) was trying to silence family members who were potential witnesses” to an alleged sexual assault of an 18-year-old family member that occurred two days prior.

In a statement, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan called the case “one of the most disturbing crimes committed in San Diego County in 2021.”

Valadez was arrested in Mexico and extradited to the United States on Dec. 16.

The murder charge includes special circumstance allegations for multiple murders and killing a witness, meaning Valadez could face the death penalty, should prosecutors choose to pursue capital punishment.

He also faces two felony sexual assault charges for the alleged sex abuse that prosecutors said led to the killings. According to the DA’s Office, Valadez also has a 1998 conviction for forcible rape and faces additional allegations related to being a “habitual sex offender.”

Valadez remains in custody without bail and is due back in court March 28.