The state Supreme Court refused Wednesday to hear the case against a man convicted of killing another man with a screwdriver in Long Beach in a tragic case of mistaken identity.
The defendant ran after his victim after being targeted with gang signs and racial slurs by a passerby, but the murdered man turned out not to be the person the killer was after.
The state’s highest court denied the defense petition seeking review of the case against Arturo Ruiz Torres, who was found guilty in December 2014 of second-degree murder for Anthony Ramirez’s Nov. 3, 2013, stabbing death.
In a 12-page ruling in July, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that the trial judge should have been required to define the terms “mistake” or “accident” when explaining the provocation for voluntary manslaughter and that jurors should have been instructed on the crime of involuntary manslaughter.
“Here, there is no question that defendant’s acts were objectively `dangerous to human life’ — he stabbed his victim three times with a screwdriver and with such `tremendous force’ that one of the blows cracked a rib. There is also no material issue as to whether defendant subjectively appreciated the danger his conduct posed,” the appellate court justices found in their ruling.
Torres and another man gave chase after a man walked by, displayed gang signs and yelled racial slurs in an alleyway behind an apartment, the appeals court panel noted.
“Defendant was the faster runner and jumped someone. It was not the same person who had insulted the group, and the man pleaded with the defendant, `Why me?”‘ the appellate court justices noted.
The appeals court panel noted that Torres — wielding a screwdriver he had been using to open beer cans — stabbed the man three times.
Torres was arrested six days later by Long Beach police.
He was sentenced in February 2015 to 16 years to life in state prison.
–City News Service
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