At a solemn preliminary hearing, a deputy medical examiner testified that Diane Spagnuolo, 65, was cut or stabbed 65 times while she worked at the X-Spot bookstore at 3606 Midway Drive on Oct. 29, 2018.
Shaun Douglas Ward, 39, was ordered to stand trial for murder as well as two special circumstances of murder during a robbery and during torture.
If Ward is convicted of the special circumstance charges, he could either face the death penalty or a life term in prison. A decision on what penalty he would face has not yet been made by the District Attorney’s office.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Albert Harutunian III ordered Ward to next appear in court on March 20. Prosecutor Melissa Vasel and Ward’s attorney submitted the case to Harutunian without argument.
Spagnuolo had worked for the Midway store 24 years and also worked for the Salvation Army, her family has said. Members of her family attended the hearing. She lived in El Cajon.
A detective told Harutunian a search of Ward’s home in Chollas Creek discovered a wad of money with blood on it inside his wallet that was also stained with blood.
Ward was dressed in jail clothes and stared downwards or afar without looking at any witness or anyone in the courtroom.
San Diego Police Detective Jana Beard testified police looked at the video surveillance cameras, and sent out a “be on the lookout” for Ward from his image on video cameras. An officer who had contact with him before notified others that he recognized Ward.
Beard said a search of his home yielded $300 “in a wad” with blood as well as a bloody knife and sheath that was in Ward’s backpack.
“The tip of the knife had been bent,” said Beard.
Dr. Robert Stabley, a deputy medical examiner, testified he performed an autopsy that lasted two days to document the extensive injuries.
Stabley said Spagnuolo had 17 head and neck stab or incise wounds. He said she had 45 incise wounds and 20 stab wounds overall.
Cuts to her carotid arteries were fatal, he said, but she had been stabbed in the back and had internal bleeding with wounds to organs. He said the cause of death was multiple sharp force injuries.
Ward has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail without bail.
His attorney previously suspected Ward was not mentally competent, but another judge on Jan. 23 determined Ward did understand court proceedings following a psychiatric evaluation.