Poway man gets 31 years to live for 1987 Carlsbad rape murder

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A Poway man convicted of murdering and raping a young woman in Carlsbad more than 35 years ago was sentenced Tuesday to 31 years to life in state prison.

James Charles Kingery, 57, was found guilty by a Vista jury of killing 26-year-old Julia Hernandez-Santiago, whose body was found on October 10, 1987 on an ivy-covered embankment on Alga Road.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was asphyxiation by strangulation.

Prosecutors say the victim was walking home from a doctor’s appointment when she was killed.

While no suspect was identified at the time of the murder, DNA collected from the crime scene led to Kingery’s arrest in the summer of 2020.

A few months before his arrest in the Hernandez-Santiago murder, Kingery was arrested on suspicion of narcotics and weapons violations, according to Carlsbad police. A DNA sample taken from him during the arrest was later matched to samples taken in the homicide case.

While Kingery initially denied knowing the victim, he later claimed that he had consensual sex with Hernandez-Santiago, according to Assistant District Attorney Lisa Fox.

A week before the murder, the police stopped him and gave them the address of a house where he was staying at the time. That house, which belonged to one of his relatives, was located less than a mile from the crime scene, the prosecutor said.

“The victim’s loved ones had their lives shattered by this horrific murder and have waited more than three decades for justice and some closure. Today they have it,” San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said in a statement released after the sentencing hearing.

“This case highlights the important work done by our Cold Case Homicide Unit and the commitment of law enforcement in our region to solving murder cases no matter how long it has been.”

–City news service

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