Man accused of Paso woman’s murder won’t face the death penalty

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office won’t seek the death penalty in the murder case against a 42-year-old Paso Robles man accused of killing a 62-year-old North County hair stylist.

Instead, the DA’s Office announced Thursday that it will pursue life in prison without parole for Carlo Alberto Fuentes Flores, who’s charged with the premeditated murder of Nancy Woodrum of Paso Robles.

Additionally, Fuentes Flores faces the special allegation of murder while committing rape and residential burglary.

Woodrum’s disappearance led to an eight-month missing person investigation, before Fuentes Flores’ arrest in December 2018.

“As long as the death penalty is a lawful sentence in California, I will continue to perform my duty in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, considering all of the facts, when deciding whether or not the death penalty is appropriate,” said District Attorney Dan Dow, in a statement.

Decision made after careful consideration of facts, DA’s says

Under California law, if convicted of first-degree murder and a special circumstance, Fuentes Flores could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Dow noted Fuentes Flores is innocent until proven guilty.

The decision was made after consideration of the facts of the case and the defendant’s background, the DA’s Office said.

Additionally, the DA “consulted with surviving family members of the victim Nancy Woodrum and the involved investigative personnel,” as well as the public defender who provided relevant background on Fuentes Flores for consideration, the DA’s statement noted.

Paso Robles resident Nancy Woodrum San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office

The office earlier this week won a court trial in the case of an Indiana man who murdered his mother, in which the prosecutors are also seeking life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, due to the murder being financially motivated.

Fuentes Flores allegedly killed Woodrum on May 5, 2018, in a remote spot off Highway 58. She was reported missing from her home in the 5800 block of El Pharo Drive north of Creston.

After identifying Fuentes Flores as a suspect, sheriff’s detectives interviewed him on Dec. 18, 2018, and he led investigators to her body on the same day, the Sheriff’s Office previously said.

How the murder suspect and his alleged victim came into contact

Fuentes Flores had done painting work on Woodrum’s property and had “limited” contact with her, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said at a press conference in December.

Carlo Alberto Fuentes Flores of Paso Robles, seen here in court for his arraignment on Dec. 21, 2018, is accused of killing Nancy Woodrum in May 2018.. Joe Johnston

Neighbors last saw Woodrum at her house on the afternoon of May 4, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Family members contacted law enforcement after they stopped by her house and couldn’t find her.

In the days after her disappearance, authorities searched the area around Woodrum’s home using ground crews, dogs and a California Highway Patrol helicopter, without success.

Over the course of several months, neighbors put up “missing” posters seeking information about her in an attempt to find her.

Investigators conducted numerous interviews with those who came into contact with her, including obtaining forensic evidence in September and identified Fuentes Flores as a suspect in November.

Fuentes Flores is due back in court Oct. 29.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson and Chief Deputy James Taylor watch Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, as detectives gather evidence in an area off Highway 58 in eastern San Luis Obispo County after murder suspect Carlo Alberto Fuentes Flores led investigators to the remains of Nancy Woodrum. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office

“The detectives in this case spent many hours tracking down leads, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence to try and determine what happened to Nancy Woodrum,” Parkinson said in a statement in December. “This was a difficult case from the beginning, but I am extremely proud of the tenacious efforts put forth by the investigators in this case. I am also hopeful this arrest brings some amount of closure to the family of Nancy Woodrum.”

Tribune staff writer Lindsey Holden contributed to this story.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.