A woman parolee should be convicted of murder for fatally stabbing another woman in the neck, then running her over with a car in a City Heights alley, a prosecutor told a jury Monday, but a defense attorney said his client acted in self-defense.
Deputy District Attorney David Bost said in his opening statement that after her arrest, 32-year-old Christina Daniel told a boyfriend and two sisters that she murdered 29-year-old Jasmine Ruiz and was going to get the death penalty.
The prosecutor said Daniel was a very violent person who could get angry very quickly.
A 17-year-old girl named Martha testified that she was in her room at her grandfather’s apartment in the 4100 block of Wilson Avenue about 10 a.m. on April 20, 2016, when she heard fighting and arguing in the alley below.
The teen said she saw a man and a woman standing outside of a car and another woman with blood on her legs trying to get out of the vehicle.
“I thought she was getting raped,” the girl testified.
The witness said she ran downstairs and noticed the car had crashed near a pole. She said she saw two men and a woman running from the scene and saw the victim under the car. “I told her everything was going to be OK.”
The teen said Ruiz asked her to pull the car back, but she didn’t know how and waited for help to arrive.
Deputy Public Defender Dalen Duong told the jury in his opening statement that Daniel and Ruiz were friends who met in Juvenile Hall and also were in prison at the same time. The two women had lost touch, but reconnected just weeks before Ruiz was killed, Duong said.
The morning of the fatal encounter, Daniel and Ruiz went to the Sycuan Casino to gamble and buy drugs, then returned to City Heights, Duong said.
At some point, Ruiz was driving a car with Daniel in the front passenger seat and two men in the back and an argument ensued, the defense attorney said.
Duong said Daniel saw Ruiz with a knife and the two women began fighting in the car in the alley and Ruiz was stabbed as Daniel tried to defend herself.
The victim was pushed out of the car and run over and dragged about 15 to 20 feet, according to Bost, who said Ruiz died from a stab wound to the jugular vein.
Police found a supermarket receipt in the car and obtained surveillance video from the market showing Daniel and Marco Antonio Gutierrez in the store 30 minutes before the fatal confrontation.
Homicide Detective Jonathan Dungan said a parolee told him that Daniel came to his home after the murder and said, “Get me out of here!”
The parolee said he refused, but did hide a knife that Daniel gave him in a wall heater.
Dungan testified that there was a lot of blood in the car that struck Ruiz.
Bost said the defendant was on parole for a 2007 carjacking, and has also been charged in a separate case in the South Bay with stabbing a person in the head and back.
Daniel faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted.
Gutierrez pleaded guilty last year to hit-and-run and was sentenced to three years in prison.
–City News Service