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Wildomar Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Killing Father of Her Child at Pechanga

A Wildomar woman accused of gunning down her boyfriend during a confrontation at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and other charges.

Maria Santos Vihnanek, 31, is eligible for the death penalty if convicted as charged of killing 49-year-old Keith Rodman of Los Angeles, who fathered her 6-month-old child.  However, District Attorney Spokesman John Hall tells Patch that the DA's office hasn't decided if they will pursue that penalty.

Along with the murder count, Vihnanek is charged with child endangerment and faces a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, as well as gun and great bodily injury allegations.  The special circumstance of lying in wait is what makes the woman potentially eligible for death, according to Hall.

The defendant appeared in Murrieta before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer, who appointed her a public defender and set a felony settlement conference in the case for March 10.

Vihnanek remains in custody without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

The defendant allegedly confronted Rodman as he strode through the casino lobby shortly before 11 p.m. Friday and then opened fire on the victim, who died at Temecula Valley Hospital about 90 minutes later of multiple gunshot wounds.

Vihnanek fled back to her room at the resort, where she had left her child, according to sheriff's Sgt. Mike Manning.

He said the defendant suffered a "self-inflicted injury," but did not elaborate. Deputies located her the following day and arrested her without incident. She was treated at a hospital and booked into jail.

The baby, who was not injured, was placed in the custody of county child protective services.

A possible motive for the shooting was not cited.


— City News Service contributed to this report.

Alek J Hidell March 01, 2014 at 12:25 PM
you do a disservice to the Greek people on that marvelous island..... its CRETINs.
No March 01, 2014 at 12:39 PM
Thank you Marty. Noted.
That Temecula Guy March 01, 2014 at 05:25 PM
Renee, you better check your sources and get your story right. This is inaccurate garbage reporting in which it looks like you scanned over a press release. Contact the sheriffs department or get a hold of some actual witnesses. At no time were shots fired outside of the hotel room. Hell, I'm not even a reporter and all it took was three phone calls to three sources to confirm the original story. Pechanga could take you to task for such bad reporting. Patch was so much better when Peter Surowski was editor.
CC March 02, 2014 at 02:22 AM
It's standard procedure to plead not guilty. So both sides can get there case together. There will be some plea bargains thrown around then if neccasary a trial. But either way she won't be getting out anytime soon
So Cal Native March 03, 2014 at 03:50 AM
Check your facts. Victim was shot in hotel room, not lobby. More stellar “reporting” by Patch… RSO press release states: “Further investigation revealed that the shooting occurred in a guest room and that the victim entered the lobby of the casino to seek emergency medical treatment immediately thereafter.” http://www.riversidesheriff.org/press/chu14-0221.asp

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