Killings suspect to be arraigned

The only suspect in the double-murder of a Millbrae couple is scheduled to be arraigned today on the same day family members hold memorial services for Fernand and Suzanne Wagner.

Joseph George Cua, 52, appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court on Thursday as scheduled, but without a lawyer. He did not qualify for a public defender.

Cua, who was soft-spoken during his brief court appearance, said he was in the process of hiring a lawyer and would have one ready at a hearing scheduled for this afternoon.

Police found Fernand, 78, and Suzanne Wagner, 68, brutally murdered last Wednesday in their home on Lomita Avenue.

A phoned-in tip last Friday led San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office investigators to Cua, 52, a part-time Burlingame resident and property manager for the Wagners. Cua was arrested Sunday by an Oxnard police officer, who spotted him driving the white pickup truck detailed in an all-points bulletin issued by the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Office Capt. Don O’Keefe said this week that the tip greatly focused the investigation, which has involved gathering boxes of evidence at the couple’s home and interviewing friends, family and neighbors.

He arrived in San Mateo County Wednesday night, Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Family members, which included siblings, nieces and nephews, Wagstaffe said, were quickly ushered in and out of the courtroom, and none of them granted interviews to media that day. They were briefed beforehand that this could be a very long trial.

If convicted for the murders, Cua will likely get the death penalty or life in jail with no parole.

Investigators have guarded information closely, and have not released further information about why Cua may have killed his business associates. But Wagstaffe was very confident that investigators are on the right track.

“We have established his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, in my mind,” Wagstaffe said.

tramroop@examiner.com

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