A South Los Angeles man was charged with two counts of murder Tuesday in connection with the death of his wife and their infant son.
Algernon Fitzgerald Rieux, 26, appeared in court and delayed his plea until July 13 in the slayings of Jacqueline Montoya and 2-month-old Joshua.
Prosecutors have not determined whether they will seek the death penalty. If they do not, Rieux faces up to life in prison without parole if convicted. He is being held without bail.
Police said Rieux's mother went to his apartment in the 11100 block of South Normandie Avenue on June 4 because he was due in court and she wanted to make sure he showed up.
She told police that she pounded on the door and that her son answered, mumbled something, then handed her his son.
"What did you do?" she asked her son, according to neighbor Keyla Foxworth, who described the baby's body as cold, lifeless and soaking wet.
Rieux then fled before she dialed 911, Foxworth said.
Joshua's grandmother tried to resuscitate the infant while Foxworth went inside the apartment to check on 25-year-old Montoya, she said. She found Montoya's body in bed with blankets pulled up to her knees.
There was no visible blood and no bruises on her body, Foxworth said. Montoya, with her hands folded, looked as if she could have been sleeping, she said.
Hours later, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators distributed a photograph of Rieux, describing him as the suspect in the double slaying. They said he had ties to San Pedro and was possibly suicidal, high on methamphetamine and dangerous.
Neighbors said Rieux and Montoya's marriage was troubled.
"I would tell her, 'Jackie, you need to leave him,' " said 30-year-old Clevette Foxworth, the sister of Keyla Foxworth.
Months earlier, a neighbor said, a pregnant Montoya was walking outside at 3 a.m. The neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation, recounted that Montoya had said that Rieux had kicked her out of the house so she was going to sleep at the Laundromat.
In December, Rieux pleaded no contest to one count of domestic violence and was sentenced to a year in jail, according to court records. He was released April 4.