A Signal Hill man was sentenced Monday to 20 years to life in state prison for fatally stabbing a good Samaritan in Long Beach during a confrontation about the defendant violating a restraining order.
Superior Court Judge Richard M. Goul rejected the defense’s bid for a new trial for Edson Eduardo Rufino, along with a request to reduce the 20-year-old man’s conviction from second-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter.
Deputy District Attorney Karen Brako called Rufino a “catalyst” for the events that occurred April 2, 2020, saying that he was “the sole party responsible for these events” that left 31-year-old Leandro Maza dead.
Rufino violated a restraining order by visiting his girlfriend that day at her mother’s home and used a knife to threaten the girlfriend’s brother and another visitor to the home when his girlfriend’s mother called police, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Rufino fled into another home where Maza — whom police said had armed himself with a metal pole — helped to detain him as they waited for police, and Rufino then pushed his way out of the home and fatally stabbed Maza, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Maza was taken to a hospital, where he died that night of a stab wound to the chest, according to the coroner’s office.
Rufino fled the scene and was arrested early the next morning by Long Beach police. He has remained in jail since then.
Rufino was convicted July 7 of the murder charge, along with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and a misdemeanor count of contempt of court, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Zoe Rawson, who works for a nonprofit organization called Arts for Healing and Justice Network, said that she met Rufino when he was 16 years old and told the judge that he is a “loving, kind, sensitive person.”
“I don’t want to be dismissive of the tragic outcome in this case,” she told the judge, while noting that she was concerned that a lengthy period of incarceration will “potentially cause a lot of trauma” for the young man.
The judge countered that there was “evidence that Mr. Rufino is a danger…” and added that the young man has the prospect of being released on parole at a “relatively young age” under the sentence.