A defense attorney acknowledged Monday that his client “caused the death” of a bloody man stabbed in the neck in a Tustin park last year, but said the defendant “feared” for his life at the time.
It’s not a “whodunnit,” according to the lawyer, it’s a “whydunnit.”
Robert Jesus Wilson, 52, is charged with murder and also faces a sentence-enhancing weapon-use allegation in the Aug. 18, 2015, stabbing of 39- year-old Robert Carranza in Frontier Park.
Carranza staggered out of the park, holding his neck as blood gushed out, and made it across the street to an Arco gas station and convenience store at 14231 Red Hill Ave., Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons said.
Paramedics were called, and Carranza was pronounced dead at an area hospital shortly after arrival, Simmons said. He bled to death from a three- inch cut to his left carotid artery, the prosecutor said.
One witness, Cindy Espiritu, told investigators she saw the mortally wounded victim running toward her in the park and, “as he approached he said, `excuse me,”‘ Simmons said.
Simmons showed jurors footage from multiple surveillance cameras, showing the movements of Wilson around the time of the killing in the park. One camera captured the attack from afar.
Soon after the stabbing, Wilson was seen riding a black beach cruiser bike with the handlebars flipped up, Simmons said. About 30 minutes after the stabbing, the defendant called an occasional movie buddy to catch a flick at Main Place Mall in Santa Ana, he said.
The acquaintance, Timothy Sparks, told investigators that Wilson confided he “did something bad and he would do a day,” which is slang for a life prison sentence, Simmons said.
When Sparks pressed for details, Wilson grew angry and refused to discuss it further, the prosecutor said. When Sparks read about the killing of Carranza, he called police.
Sparks suggested to investigators that they might be able to find Wilson at the home of his recently deceased parents in Palm Desert, Simmons said. Police set up surveillance at the home and arrested him there, Simmons said.
Investigators recovered black jeans Wilson was wearing the day of the stabbing that had the victim’s blood on them, Simmons said. They also found a Marlboro cigarette butt on the ground at the crime scene that tested positive for the defendant’s DNA, Simmons said.
Police never recovered a murder weapon, the prosecutor said.
Wilson’s attorney, Gil Carreon, told jurors, “I can’t contest any of the evidence he’s going to present to you.”
The attorney added, “It’s not a whodunnit. It’s a whydunnit.”
Before going to the park that day, Wilson enjoyed a satisfying lunch and bought a 12-pack of beer on sale at a nearby liquor store, Carreon said.
When he rode his bike over to the park, he encountered Carranza and another man who claimed to know Wilson, but he considered them strangers, his attorney said.
The more they pressed him for his identity, the more anxious the defendant felt, according to Carreon. As they continued asking him where he was from, the defendant thought they might be doing a “gang hit-up,” which typically includes the phrase, “Where you from?”, the defense attorney said.
The defendant was further spooked when he noticed that one of the men had a backpack with drills and other large tools in it, Carreon said.
“The case is: was he reasonably in fear for his life,” he said.
–City News Service
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