a convicted felon accused of beating and attempting to sexually assault a homeless woman, who was left naked and hog-tied, exposed to the cold for several days in Cabazon, and died of her injuries nearly a month later.Jury selection is slated to get underway next week for the trial of
Joseph Jimmy Blancarte, 50, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted in the 2011 death of 43-year-old Mary Ann Sanchez.
Blancarte is charged with first-degree murder and attempted rape, with special circumstance allegations of inflicting fatal injuries in the course of a sexual assault and committing torture in the course of a murder.
Pretrial motions are scheduled Monday at the Riverside Hall of Justice, followed by jury selection on Tuesday. Testimony is expected to take about two weeks.
According to prosecutors, Blancarte and Sanchez were both transients and had been seen together in the days leading up to the fatal assault.
On April 2, 2011, Blancarte allegedly attacked the victim when she spurned his sexual advances. The defendant pummeled her about the head and inflicted multiple other injuries, sheriff's investigators and prosecutors allege.
Blancarte allegedly then stripped Sanchez completely naked and hog-tied her, leaving her in a vacant lot in the 14000 block of Citrus Avenue. According to testimony from the defendant's preliminary hearing, Sanchez was left unconscious, exposed to the elements for two days before a passerby discovered her.
Because of the way in which she was bound and the plummeting nighttime temperatures, Sanchez's feet were irreparably damaged and had to be amputated, prosecutors said.
She lingered in a coma for nearly a month at the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, where she died on May 4, 2011.
Blancarte fled the area, catching a Greyhound bus to Modesto. Authorities arrested him there without incident within a week of the assault.
According to court records, the defendant has prior felony convictions for grand theft and burglary, as well as misdemeanor convictions for disorderly conduct and being under the influence of illegal drugs.
For a report on Blancarte's arrest see
Banning Man Arrested on Suspicion of Attempted Homicide, Sexual Assault: Alleged Victim Critical
Reported by City News Service