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February hearing in knit cap case Neal Putnam | Sat, Jan 18 2014 12:00 PM

The preliminary hearing for a murder suspect who is charged with killing businessman Sergio Morales in 1999 was re-scheduled for Feb. 4 and was transferred from San Diego to the Chula Vista Superior Court.

The hearing for Joe Mora, 34, had been set for Tuesday, but he got a new attorney which resulted in a new date. Mora has pleaded not guilty to fatally shooting Morales on his porch on Nov. 28, 1999.

The case was filed in San Diego Superior Court, but a judge moved it to Chula Vista because the murder “occurred down there,” said Deputy District Attorney Andrea Freshwater. Morales’s widow also still lives in Chula Vista.
Morales was the owner of S&C Furniture store on Main Street in Chula Vista at the time. Robbery was believed to be the motive but the killer left without taking anything.

A knit cap was found at the scene and DNA evidence eventually linked it to Mora, of Lancaster, who was arrested Sept. 27, 2013, and charged with killing Morales.

Morales’s wife called Chula Vista Police at 6:50 p.m. saying a man burst into their home. Morales pushed him outside onto the porch and there was a struggle before he shot Morales in the head and torso, according to court records.
A male DNA profile was developed from the knit cap and a match was discovered in 2009 when Mora was arrested for a domestic violence charge in Lancaster. He remains in jail on $1 million bail.

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