The Coast News Group

Man pleads not guilty to killing wife, who went missing in October 2017

VISTA — A man accused of killing his wife and dumping her body near Palomar Mountain last fall pleaded not guilty Oct. 29  to a murder charge.

Hector Garcia Martinez, 39, was ordered held without bail.

He was arrested last week on suspicion of murdering 38-year-old Maria Elena Guzman-Cordova, who was reported missing on Oct. 14, 2017, from her residence on North Santa Fe Avenue, San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Rich Williams said.

The defendant told sheriff’s investigators that Guzman-Cordova left the family’s apartment shortly after 9 the previous night to take a walk after the couple had argued, Williams said.

He also told deputies that Guzman-Cordova did not take any personal items with her, according to the lieutenant.

Martinez was arrested the morning of Oct. 25 near his Vista residence, more than a year after he reported his wife missing.

“Maria’s remains were recently located in a rural area near Palomar Mountain and positively identified through her DNA,” Williams said.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office examined the remains but was unable to determine the cause of death, he said.

Detectives allege Martinez transported Guzman-Cordova’s body to the Palomar Mountain area in a four-door white sedan or a burgundy SUV last year on Oct. 13 or Oct. 14.

“Evidence gathered over the course of the year-long investigation linked Martinez to Maria Guzman’s murder,” Williams said.

Martinez will be back in court Nov. 6 for a readiness conference. A preliminary hearing was set for Nov. 8.

— City News Service