SAN DIMAS (CBSLA) — Authorities have charged a 26-year-old man with capital murder in the 2015 fatal shooting of the owner of a Quiznos restaurant in San Dimas.
Sergey S. Gutsu of Antelope in Sacramento County was identified as the suspect in the 2015 robbery while he was in custody for a criminal case in Sonoma County, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said Friday.
Gutsu pleaded not guilty Thursday to one count of murder with a special circumstance allegation that the crime was committed during a robbery, making him eligible for the death penalty, one count of second-degree robbery and two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, all felonies. The charges include firearm allegations.
Prosecutors say Gutsu robbed a Quiznos restaurant at gunpoint and threatened two customers inside the restaurant on June 2, 2015. When the owner, 62-year-old Pravin Patel, confronted him outside, he shot and fatally wounded him.
Patel had owned the restaurant for 11 years and was popular with regular customers, who left flowers and messages of support in front of the store. He was remembered as a generous man who would tell customers to take a sandwich, even if they didn’t have enough money to pay for it.
Gutsu was originally charged in Patel’s murder on Aug. 24, 2017, but the capital murder charges were announced Friday. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance on July 12.
If convicted as charged, Gutsu faces a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole or death. Prosecutors say they will decide whether to seek the death penalty against Gutsu at a later date.