Murder Charge


Last updated 9/2/2021 at 10:03am

Thirty-seven-year-old Eugene Focarelli is facing a murder charge in connection with the death of a man who was attacked in an unprovoked altercation back in February, authorities announced on Aug. 9.

On Feb. 18, deputies responded to the intersection of DiGiorgio Road and Palm Canyon Drive, where they found the victim on the ground suffering from head wounds. He was transported to the hospital, where his condition began to worsen, and four days later he died.

The man was later identified as 49-year-old Borrego Springs resident Martin Joel Baker.

Focarelli was taken into custody the day of the incident, and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, not a firearm (245(a)(1)PC), and was released after posting the $30,000 bail. He was rearrested a few days later after Baker was pronounced dead. Focarelli was taken to the San Diego Central Jail with bail of $110,000.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted the autopsy on Feb. 23, the day after Baker died, but determined that an additional investigation was required before his cause and manner of death could be determined.

On June 30, the county Medical Examiner’s Office determined in a preliminary finding that Baker’s cause of death was “complications from blunt force trauma,” and the manner of death was homicide, according to Sheriff’s homicide Lt. Thomas Seiver.

Then two weeks later on July 14, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office charged Focarelli with murder (187(a)PC). He was already in custody at the time on unrelated charges. Focarelli is currently in jail with no bail.

On Aug. 4, the Medical Examiner’s Office notified sheriff’s homicide detectives of their official autopsy findings. They confirmed their preliminary findings and restated that the cause of Baker’s death was complications from blunt force trauma and the manner of his death is homicide. Seiver did not disclose more circumstances of Baker’s death or what led up to the attack.

Martin Baker was a well-known resident of Borrego, who graduated from Borrego Springs High School in 1989. Before moving back to Borrego Springs in 2020, he lived in Yachats, a small town on the central coast of Oregon, for some time. He had been homeless before finding shelter and friendship at a community church, stated the Yachats News.

Focarelli has had multiple previous run-ins with the law, dating back to at least 2003, and he is facing a slew of felony and misdemeanor charges in active cases, including felony charges of vandalism and elder abuse.

Focarelli is due in court this month for a hearing to determine his readiness for a preliminary hearing.