San Bernardino woman accused of storing boyfriend in a ‘makeshift tomb’ will stand trial for murder

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A Superior Court judge on Friday, June 21, ordered a San Bernardino woman held over for trial on a murder charge after a man testified that Trista Ann Soicer told him that she killed boyfriend Eric Mercado in 2014 by slamming his head with a frying pan and slitting his throat as he slept on a love seat.

Mercado’s family reported him missing soon after. He wasn’t found until 2022, when the man who testified Friday, Spicer’s most recent boyfriend Waylan Gentry, told police that Spicer had admitted to him eight years before that she had entombed Mercado’s body in a storage area in her backyard.

Mercado’s nose and eye socket had been “obliterated,” San Bernardino Police detective Tiffany Montez testified.

Judge William Jefferson Powell IV made his ruling after defense attorney Gary W. Smith’s withering cross-examination of Gentry, who admitted he couldn’t remember how many felonies he had committed in his career dealing drugs or any details — such as the weapon he used — about an assault he had committed.

Family members of 42-year-old Mercado said he and Spicer had been dating for three years and that they appeared to be getting along well while living together before he vanished in 2014. In an interview after the discovery of the body, Mercado’s mother and sisters wondered why the Davidson Street home had not been searched years earlier.

Mercardo’s mother, Guadalupe Plascencia, thought Mercado’s background may have initially steered police away from Spicer as a suspect. He had been “in and out of prison” but had “settled down,” she said.

San Bernardino police announced on Sept. 6, 2022, that they had received a tip about a homicide victim at the home. They served a search warrant on Aug. 23 and found Mercado’s body in a “makeshift tomb.”

Spicer was arrested on Sept. 2 in Yucaipa and charged with murder. A police investigatory report later disclosed that the tip came from Spicer’s current boyfriend.

Spicer has pleaded not guilty.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.