A man who fatally stabbed a tow truck driver who was helping the defendant’s mother in Pico Rivera was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years to life in state prison.
Tobias Ruben Cabrera, 41, pleaded no contest Dec. 6 to second-degree murder for the June 2, 2015, killing of Raymond Zabala III, who was attacked in the 8400 block of Buhman Avenue after replacing the battery on the woman’s car.
Cabrera also admitted that he had a prior conviction, from 2001, for corporal injury with great bodily injury to a spouse/cohabitant/child’s parent.
Cabrera walked up to the 35-year-old AAA driver and asked what was going on before attacking him, then rode away on a bike after the unprovoked stabbing. Authorities have not determined a motive for the attack.
Zabala went to a neighboring home to seek help, but died near the crime scene. Cabrera was arrested three days later.
Zabala’s mother, Michele, said, “… There are no adequate words to describe the pain, anger and despair that I’ve felt from his murder.”
“Ray’s murder took everything from me,” she said. “It took my security and my innocence. It took my rest and my peace. I have lost my faith and trust in people. I have trouble finding joy in the simple pleasures of life. Being `happy’ doesn’t seem `right’ any more.”
She described the family’s world as “shattered,” saying they are “now painfully aware that there is violence and evil in this world.”
The victim’s fiance, Stephanie Almanza, said that she and Zabala had a son who was only 2 months old when his father was killed. She said Zabala was also helping her raise her older son.
“I keep our family pictures and pictures of Raymond up at home so the baby can see him every day. It’s sad that the only way the baby can visit him is by going to the cemetery and speaking to him without receiving a response back from his father,” she said. “It breaks my heart that the baby is starting to talk and he should be saying, `Daddy,’ but only knows the word `Mom.”‘
She called her fiance a “hard-working family man” and said she fears for her and her sons’ lives if Cabrera is released from prison.
—City News Service
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