30 years later, RSF gardener on trial for love

House along Luna de Miel at Rancho Santa Fe, typical of where two landscapers clashed over a woman resulting in one death and one 30-year fugitive found at Austin, Texas and returned for trial./Redfin

A man who allegedly shot his friend three times in the back over a woman, then fled to Mexico and remained on the lam for three decades, is finally set for trial.

Simon Loredo Mayo, 58, faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted of the Dec. 12, 1988, shooting at Luna De Miel in Rancho Santa Fe.

Mayo fired at least five times on the unnamed victim, who suffered three gunshot wounds, Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe alleged. The shooting took place outside a residence on Luna de Miel.

Mayo remained a fugitive until authorities caught up with him in Austin, Texas, on Dec. 11, 2018, one day short of the 30-year anniversary of the shooting.

Prosecutors allege that Mayo and the victim were both vying for the affections of the same woman, who Mayo married sometime afterward.

Mayo, who’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail, is due back in court April 24 for a Superior Court arraignment.

“For 30 years, the victim has waited for this day,” Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe told Superior Court Judge James Simmons, Jr., during Mayo’s brief arraignment.

They had been friends, Watanabe said, before they vied for the affections of the same woman.

According to a Los Angeles Times report from 1988, the then-27-year-old victim was tending a lawn near a driveway at a home on Luna de Miel when he was repeatedly shot in the back.

One of the bullets went through his abdomen. Another lodged in his chest.

In arguing for a high bail amount for Mayo, Watanabe told the judge that Mayo and three men showed up at the victim’s worksite in a white truck, and that Mayo got out and confronted the victim.

The victim ran, according to Watanabe, and the gunman pulled a revolver from his waistband and fired five shots.

The victim was hit three times. The homeowner witnessed the attack and called 911. (She has since died.)

Patrol deputies found the truck, and questioned the men inside. But there were only three people in it. Mayo was not among them.

With Mayo at large, the case gathered dust until detectives started checking to see if Mayo’s name came up in any databases. They found that he had recently registered a vehicle in Texas.

Watanabe said detectives worked with Austin police to arrest Mayo, who was brought to the police station on what he thought was an outstanding traffic warrant.

California detectives were waiting for him. It was Dec. 11, one day before the 30-year anniversary of the incident.

“He confessed to the shooting,” Watanabe said of Mayo. “He talked about the dispute he had over this woman — who is now his wife.”

The prosecutor said Mayo told police that, right after the shooting, he fled from the truck and hid the revolver under a rock.

Mayo told authorities he fled to Tijuana, Watanabe said, and that he later lived in Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina before moving to Texas.

Mayo married the woman at the heart of the dispute. According to Watanabe, the couple is still married, but she lives in Mexico and visits her husband in Texas.

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