A controlling and abusive husband stabbed and strangled his 19-year-old wife at San Diego City College after she took out a restraining order against him, a prosecutor said Thursday, but a defense attorney said his client killed the victim in a “crime of passion” when she told him he was never going to see their daughter again.
In her opening statement in the trial of Armando Perez, Deputy District Attorney Jessica Lees told a jury that Perez waited for Diana Gonzalez as classes let out the night of Oct. 12, 2010.
Lees said Perez walked with Gonzalez the opposite way from where her parents were waiting to pick her up, then strangled her and stabbed her all over her body in a men’s bathroom.
The prosecutor said Perez desecrated his wife’s body and carved the word “bitch” on her back.
“This was a particularly brutal murder,” the prosecutor said.
Perez, 44, fled to Mexico after the killing and remained a fugitive until he was arrested in February 2012 and was brought back to San Diego to face charges.
The defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and lying in wait in November 2014, but an appeals court sent the case back to San Diego Superior Court, ruling that a judge erred by allowing Perez to plead guilty without a lawyer in a case in which he faced a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lees said Perez was married with two children when he met Gonzalez. She was 18 and he was 36 when she got pregnant, the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor said Perez became obsessed with Gonzalez and was abusive, causing her to take out a temporary restraining order against him a month before she was killed.
Defense attorney Bart Sheela told the jury that Gonzalez originally gave Perez her phone number when she was 17, but he told her she was too young.
After they started dating, Gonzalez tried to keep their relationship from her parents, but Perez insisted on telling them and let them know that she was pregnant, Sheela said.
Sheela said Perez went to City College the night of Oct. 12, 2010, because he needed to see his wife and talk about seeing his daughter.
The defendant saw Gonzalez with a male friend and was going to confront him, but left and returned to the campus with a knife, Sheela said.
When he came back, Perez gave his wife a hug but she told him, “Get away from me! He (the male friend) does it better than you! You’re never going to see your daughter again,” according to Sheela.
The next thing he remembers, Gonzalez was dead on the bathroom floor, Sheela told the jury.
“He (Perez) lost it,” his attorney said. “This was a crime of passion. He did a horrible thing.”
–City News Service
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