The 30-year-old Army veteran accused of killing a police officer – who also was the father of an ex-girlfriend – during a domestic dispute made his first court appearance to face murder charges on Wednesday afternoon.
Robert Vega was officially charged with first-degree murder, with enhancements including personal and intentional use of a firearm resulting in death, at the Solano County Superior Courthouse in Fairfield. He also faces one charge of kidnapping.
Deputy District Attorney Eric Charm said Vega faces 50 years to life in prison. He has been in custody since the Feb. 11 early morning killing. He did not enter a plea and was ordered to returned to court on March 1.
That's when police say he went to the Vallejo home of Gus Vegas, a veteran of the Richmond Police Department, and gunned down the 58-year-old man. Vega, who has a similar last name to Vegas, had dated Vegas' daughter, and the two had a 6-year-old son together, whom Vega fled with until he was arrested a short time later. Attempts to speak to Vega in jail have been unsuccessful.
According to Army records, Vega was deployed to Kuwait in 2005 and 2006, and Iraq in 2006. He was a specialist effective 2005 and completed his service in 2009. He also won two Army Commendation medals, two Army Achievement medals, a National Defense Service medal, an Iraq Campaign medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service medal, and Army Service ribbon, and two Overseas Service ribbons, Army records indicate.
The exact nature of the fatal dispute has not been disclosed.
But the day after her husband was shot multiple times in his own home about 4:30 a.m., Vegas's wife, Sandra, said her daughter's ex-boyfriend was very close to the family, and even called Vegas "dad."
"We don't know what happened," she said at the time. "But we have complete love and forgiveness for him."
Robert Vega charged with murder w/intentional use of firearm for killing of off-duty police officer & kidnapping. pic.twitter.com/blnijAJXKM— Jodi Hernandez (@JodiHernandezTV) February 17, 2016
Robert Vega looks at sister in during his arraignment. He's accused of killing off duty officer hearing postponed pic.twitter.com/Q3zKC14MmH— Jodi Hernandez (@JodiHernandezTV) February 17, 2016
Bianca Vegas says her sister, the 6-year-old's mom, is hanging in there "she needs every prayer, all the help she can get." Vega's sister also attended the court hearing, along with several Richmond police officers.
Vegas leaves behind his wife, 10 children and 20 grandchildren.
A memorial fund has been established for Officer Gus Vegas’s family through the Richmond Police Officers Association: Mechanics Bank, Account #041305213, Routing #121102036.