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Murder suspect Kimberly Vega is shown in a 2020 Facebook profile photo with her former boyfriend Pablo Dominguez, who she is accused of killing. Dominguez was allegedly shot by another man on June 7, and Dominguez’s brother has said Vega hired the other man to commit the crime. | FACEBOOK PHOTO

Family of Slain El Centro Man Grateful for 2nd Arrest

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EL CENTRO — The family of a slain 27-year-old El Centro man who was shot June 7 at the Crown Motel in El Centro is expressing gratitude for the recent arrest of a second murder suspect and the re-apprehension of the alleged shooter accidently released from county jail on July 23.

George Muñoz, the older brother of slain El Centro man Pablo Dominguez, appreciates the efforts from the public and law enforcement to bring his brother’s alleged killers to justice. | PHOTO COURTESY OF IMPERIAL VALLEY ALIVE

Their thanks are specifically directed at the El Centro police detective whose investigation led to the arrest of 32-year-old El Centro resident Kimberly Andrea Vega on Monday, Aug. 2 in connection to the alleged murder of Pablo Dominguez.

Dominguez’s family is equally appreciative for the numerous tipsters that provided law enforcement and family members with information that suggested the alleged shooter and escaped inmate, Athan Emmanuel Estrada, was hiding in Mexicali, where he was subsequently apprehended by authorities on Friday, July 30.  

Yet family members are also expecting further distress when both suspects are brought to face charges in Imperial County Superior Court, where family members plan to be in attendance, said Dominguez’s older brother, George Muñoz.

“We plan to be there every day (there is a hearing),” Muñoz said on Tuesday, Aug. 3. “It’s not going to be easy.”

Kimberly Andrea Vega, 32, reportedly of El Centro, was arrested on suspicion murder in the shooting death of Pablo Dominguez. She was taken into custody by El Centro police on Monday, Aug. 2. | FACEBOOK PHOTO

Vega was booked into county jail for murder and was expected to be arraigned the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 4, the county District Attorney’s Office reported.

Vega was in a past relationship with Dominguez, and the mother of his 1-year-old daughter, Muñoz said. Muñoz has alleged that she had directed Estrada to shoot Dominguez in retaliation for Dominguez having separated from her.

Though the current incarceration of the two murder suspects has brought his family some comfort, Muñoz said he is hoping that others who committed crimes against Dominguez at Vega’s urging, but unrelated to the alleged murder, are brought to justice as well.

About two days prior to Dominguez’s shooting, he was assaulted by three men who Muñoz previously alleged were acting under the direction of Vega.

Kimberly Andrea Vega’s booking photo from Monday, Aug. 2. | IMPERIAL COUNTY JAIL PHOTO

“I don’t know why these kids listen to her,” the 44-year-old El Centro resident said.

Dominguez had struggled with substance abuse in the past but was able to regain control of his life about two years ago with the help of his peers at the New Generation Church in El Centro. Aside from working full-time for a private water treatment company, Dominguez also worked as a handyman for the church.

“They couldn’t believe that he could still find time to help out,” Muñoz said.

As part of his turnaround, Dominguez had also recently obtained a driver’s license, fixed his credit, and purchased a new car. Muñoz acknowledged that his brother’s early-morning shooting at the Crown Motel, located at 330 N. Imperial Ave., likely prompted many in the community to speculate Dominguez was involved in questionable activity, but that was not the case. Dominguez had reportedly been residing at motels since having separated from Vega.

“He was doing really good,” Muñoz said. “She wanted him to do bad things.”

The 32-year-old Vega was taken into custody about 9:15 a.m. by police at the county Superior Courthouse in El Centro, said El Centro police Detective Jeffery Malcomb. She was at the courthouse on a matter unrelated to Dominguez’s alleged murder and was recognized by El Centro police officers who were familiar with the murder investigation.

“The investigation is still ongoing. However, there currently are no additional suspects being sought after,” Malcomb stated in an email on Tuesday, Aug. 3.

The alleged shooter, Estrada, 21, of El Centro, was initially arrested by El Centro police for domestic violence offenses and booked into county jail on July 21.

While in custody, Estrada confessed to shooting Dominguez, the El Centro Police Department previously reported. He was subsequently accidently released from custody on July 23 by the county Sheriff’s Office after he assumed another inmate’s identity, the agency previously reported.

El Centro murder suspect and Imperial County jail escapee is shown after being apprehended in Mexicali on Friday, July 30. | PHOTO COURTESY OF IMPERIAL COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Neither the Sheriff’s Office nor the DA’s Office were immediately able to provide information about whether Estrada would face any additional charges related to his escape from jail. Information regarding his next scheduled court date was not immediately available.

He was apprehended in Mexicali by the municipal police department’s special operations unit on July 30 at a residence at 830 Cesuras Ave. in the Jazmines colonia, Mexicali-based news media reported. Information on his whereabouts was provided to Mexicali law enforcement officials by local law enforcement personnel, the county Sheriff’s Office announced in a press release on July 30.

Information about Estrada’s reported whereabouts had reached Muñoz in the days following the alleged shooter’s release from jail, as well.  

“The community was helping out a lot,” he said. “That was the only reason they found him.”

Muñoz also had an equal amount of praise for El Centro police Detective Antonio Hernandez for his investigative work.

“It was a lot of work,” Muñoz said.

Pablo Dominguez, 27, of El Centro, was shot June 7 at the Crown Motel in El Centro and died in a Palm Springs hospital about five days later. The man who police say confessed to his killing, Athan Emmanuel Estrada, 21, of El Centro, escaped from the Imperial County jail on Friday, July 23, and was re-apprehended on Friday, July 30, in Mexicali. | COURTESY IMAGES

(This was story was last updated at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7.)