A Sacramento prosecutor said he will seek the death penalty in the murder case against Salvador Vasquez-Oliva, a man who stands accused of killing his wife, two children and niece in their South Land Park home earlier this year.
Vasquez-Oliva was silent as Thien Ho, a Sacramento assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, made the announcement Friday morning at the Sacramento Superior Court’s Lorenzo E. Patiño Hall of Justice.
“The prosecution will be seeking the death penalty in this case” if Vasquez is convicted, Ho said.
California has executed 13 people in the last four decades, according to a previous Sacramento Bee story. In November, the state’s voters turned down a measure that would have abolished capital punishment while passing Proposition 66, intended to speed up California’s death penalty system.
Vasquez-Oliva was almost unrecognizable from his March mug shot during Friday’s hearing. His hair was longer, combed back to reach the back of his neck. He wore glasses and had a graying beard as he stood inside the courtroom’s holding cell.
Vasquez-Oliva faces four counts of murder for the death of his wife, two children and a niece, all who were found March 23 in their South Land Park home on 35th Avenue. Their bodies were found after Sacramento Police Department officers were asked by a relative to check on the family.
The wife, identified as Angelique Vasquez, 45, was a worker at the state’s Employment Development Department. Vasquez-Oliva, 56 at the time of the incident, also worked at the department, public records show.
The two married in June 2002 in San Francisco, according to county records. Vasquez-Oliva was arrested the same day his family’s bodies were found, near the city’s Pierce Street and Golden Gate Avenue. The location is not far from an apartment on Turk Street where Vasquez-Oliva once lived, online records show.
The couple’s children were identified as 14-year-old Mia Vasquez, a student at Sam Brannan Middle School, and Alvin Vasquez,11, who attended John Cabrillo Elementary School and was an avid basketball fan. A niece, 21-year-old Ashley Coleman, was also found dead in the home.
A felony complaint filed by prosecutors in Sacramento Superior Court alleges Vasquez and her children were killed with a blunt-force instrument sometime on March 22, a day before police arrived to the South Land Park home. A knife was used to kill Coleman, the complaint alleges.
“It’s a very sad case,” said attorney Jessica Graves, who stood in for Linda Parisi, the defense attorney for the case.“There’s many issues that still need to be resolved and we look forward to using the court process to solve them.”
Ho declined to comment on a possible motive in the case.
Vasquez-Oliva is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 26 at 8:30 a.m.