STOCKTON -- A U.S. Army veteran charged in the brutal sexual assault and slaying of a 62-year-old Tracy woman could face the death penalty, prosecutors say.
Stephen Carreiro, 25, was arraigned Tuesday in San Joaquin Superior Court on charges that he raped and killed Lalita Patel at the Tracy Hacienda Inn, a motel run by her family, Saturday evening. Carreiro was naked when he was arrested around 7:15 p.m. after fighting with witnesses and police at the motel in the 600 block of West 11th Street.
Prosecutors filed five special-circumstances counts in addition to charges of murder, elder abuse and resisting arrest. Those counts were murder during the commission of a burglary, rape, rape with a foreign object, sodomy and mayhem, according to Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa.
If convicted of murder with special circumstances, Carreiro would face either life in prison without parole or execution. Prosecutors are still deciding whether to seek the death penalty, Testa said.
Police said Carreiro also attacked the victim's 82-year-old mother but would not give the details of that assault. She is expected to recover from her injuries.
Police would not describe the nature of Carreiro's attack on Patel or reveal whether a weapon was used. Tests to determine whether Carreiro was under the influence of any substance will take several weeks, Tracy police Capt. John Espinoza said.
Carreiro had moved to Tracy from out of state
Espinoza said Carreiro had recently been discharged from the Army, but did not know the details of his service. A call to Army officials to confirm Carreiro's service was not immediately returned.
Patel was found near the office of the motel, where she was working Saturday night, Espinoza said. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Espinoza confirmed that there was a live-in unit next to the motel office for employees, but would not say if that room was where Patel was found.
A motel employee said Wednesday that the family was not taking calls from the media.
Carreiro is being held without bail at the San Joaquin County Jail. He will appear next at a hearing on July 24.
San Joaquin Public Defender Peter Fox represented Carreiro at the arraignment Tuesday. A call to his office was not immediately returned.
Contact Daniel M. Jimenez at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/DMJreports.