The stepson of a former Lake Elsinore city councilman who was found stabbed and slashed to death in his house was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder.
Simon Last Cortez, 40, is accused of killing 77-year-old George Gregory Alongi in February 2013.
After a yearlong Riverside County sheriff's investigation, prosecutors filed the murder charge, as well as a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon -- a knife -- in the commission of a felony.
Cortez is serving a two-year sentence for a drug-related conviction and is slated to be arraigned April 15 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
According to the District Attorney's Office, Cortez and Alongi had a turbulent relationship in which arguments were common. Cortez's mother had been the victim of domestic violence during her marriage to Alongi, prosecutors said.
Investigators' theories on what transpired on the day of the murder were not disclosed. But according to the D.A.'s office, Alongi was stabbed multiple times and had a dozen lacerations to his neck, resulting in damage to his jugular vein and air passage. He also suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
The victim's wife discovered his lifeless body around 5:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 2013, and summoned help.
Cortez was located and interviewed by sheriff's homicide detectives soon after the deadly attack, but the defendant established that he was somewhere else that day and hadn't been to the Dolly Drive house in several months, according to prosecutors.
Further investigation, however, led to information that cast doubt on Cortez's claims, prosecutors said.
The special circumstance allegation in the case makes the defendant eligible for the death penalty -- if the D.A. elects to pursue capital punishment.
According to court records, Cortez has a string of prior felony convictions, including for grand theft, burglary and attempted robbery.
Alongi served on the Lake Elsinore City Council from 1992 to 1999. He was forced to vacate his seat by judicial decree following his conviction for misconduct related to his ownership of properties that were benefiting from city redevelopment programs on which he had voted.
—City News Service.