Attorneys will deliver closing arguments Monday in the trial of a former nurse who allegedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend in the eye with a screwdriver allegedly as a result of steroid use, then barricaded himself in his Indio home.
Erick Maciel, 33, was detained by Indio police on March 4, 2017, for allegedly attacking two women with a screwdriver while one of the women was moving her and her son’s belongings from her ex-beau’s Indio home in the 81500 block of Santa Barbara Court. He is charged with attempted murder, torture, aggravated mayhem, domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly attacking the women, identified only as Jane and Mary Doe in court documents.
Last week, testimony wrapped in the two-year-old case with a unique panel of witnesses, including Maciel himself, who is a professional bodybuilder, and a forensic psychiatrist.
Maciel, a former nurse with two years of experience at Eisenhower Health, took the stand Tuesday and gave an in-depth account of the 2017 stabbing.
“She came up and confronted me and said, `Do you need help?”’ Maciel said, referring to Mary, as the pair of women picked up boxes from his home. Shortly after, Mary pushed the 250-pound Maciel onto the ground, although it is not clear why.
“I immediately got back on my feet,” Maciel said. “And, she came at me with a screwdriver,” which resulted in a cut at the back of Maciel’s head.
The screwdriver, according to the accused’s testimony, was taken from a tool box laying on a piano in the living room, where the confrontation took place. The pair then wrestled for the screwdriver until Maciel retrieved it.
Once in Maciel’s possession, he hit Mary with the screwdriver in the mouth and “busted out” her teeth, as well as cutting her in the throat and ear, according to Deputy District Attorney Gypsy Yeager. Jane then ran into the living room and was struck in the face with the screwdriver, while Mary ran out of the back door.
With the screwdriver in hand, Maciel then followed Mary out into the backyard and confronted her as she was pinned at a gate. After a brief struggle, Maciel then “inserted the screwdriver into her eye,” according to Yeager. Court documents confirm that metal was found in Mary’s left eye during a medical examination.
The assault ended when a neighborhood mailman jumped on top of Maciel.
Maciel said that following the assault, “it felt like I woke up from a bad dream” and that everything was “one big blur” as he barricaded himself in the home with a knife set and shotgun.
Indio police responded at 12:26 p.m. that day to the home, where the victims were found and taken to a hospital.
While barricaded in the home, Maciel said he messaged family and friends to let them know that he planned to commit suicide, telling his father that “I can’t face my life after this.” He then attempted to delete his Facebook account because “I kind of just wanted to disappear.”
Text messages from that time also show that he admitted trying to kill his ex-girlfriend.
The standoff ended peacefully about 3 p.m., with Maciel surrendering.
The defense led by Shaun Sullivan appeared to argue that Maciel’s reaction was fueled by chronic steroid use. In order to strengthen that argument, forensic psychiatrist Suzanne M. Dupee was retained by the defense for $5,000 and took the stand Thursday.
Dupee said the amount of steroids Maciel claimed to be on, along with the break-up, was “a perfect storm” that could have caused “severe sudden aggression.” Other common symptoms of steroid use, according to Dupee, are irritability and paranoia.
She added that steroid use alone is not common in criminal cases, and usually other illicit drugs are involved in cases of extreme aggression.
Maciel did not test positive for any of the 10 most common drugs when detained, including heroin, cocaine or marijuana.
Professional bodybuilder Michael Kleeves, who once trained Maciel in 2008, then testified that “`roid rage” is a largely exaggerated phenomenon and, from his experience, would not cause paranoia and aggression to the degree that Maciel is alleged to have displayed.
During Kleeves’ testimony, he appeared to poke holes in the defense argument that Maciel’s screwdriver attack was due to heightened aggression and paranoia caused by steroid use. Kleeves — who admitted taking steroids for about 15 years — said that he “never heard of one single incident where it has been linked” only to steroids.
Additionally, the bodybuilder, who testified for immunity in another case, said that if Maciel had taken steroids in the “amounts he stated he was taking, he would have been hospitalized” and would have significant swelling of breast tissue, or gynecomastia. Although Maciel was never tested for steroids during his detention, pictures from that period do not indicate any swelling of his breasts.
Maciel is currently being held without bail at the Indio jail.