The defense rested Wednesday in the trial of a 30-year-old Moreno Valley man accused of fatally beating and stabbing his girlfriend in front of their two small children, setting the stage for closing arguments.
Krystoffer Devion Hicks is charged with murder and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony for the 2018 slaying of 24-year-old Latah Wilson.
The prosecution rested on Monday, and Hicks’ attorney called his final witnesses Wednesday afternoon, prompting Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Johnson to schedule closing arguments for Thursday morning at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Hicks is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
According to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney David Kao, Hicks and Wilson were in a relationship for four years, beginning when they lived together in Nevada, and much of that time was marked by volatility, with one or the other calling 911 to report domestic violence.
Wilson had a daughter from a prior relationship, and the defendant and victim had a son together in 2017.
According to court papers, while Wilson once caused a minor injury to one of Hicks’ fingers, she received the lion’s share of abuse.
“Between 2015 and 2017, the victim was seen on different occasions with … a large hematoma on her forehead, black eyes, a cut lip and bruises to her arms,” the brief stated.
In 2017, Hicks, Wilson and the children moved into an apartment at 23227 Hemlock Ave. Squabbling and domestic abuse were frequent, Kao alleged, and it came to a head on the night of Feb. 9, 2018.
During a heated exchange that began in their residence and continued into the parking lot of the Segovia Apartments, Wilson followed the defendant to his car and “threw a concrete block through the rear windshield,” according to the brief.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived soon afterward and temporarily restored peace, citing Wilson for vandalism and persuading Hicks to go somewhere else to cool off.
Wilson went with a friend to purchase cigarettes at a nearby convenience store, leaving her two children with a neighbor, and when she returned to the apartment complex about 1 a.m. Feb. 10, Hicks pulled into the parking lot behind her vehicle, prosecutors said.
After speaking outdoors, Hicks and Wilson returned to their apartment, initially without trouble. The neighbor returned to her apartment, leaving the children on a living room sofa.
After entering their kitchen, an argument erupted between the defendant and victim, quickly leading to physical violence, according to the brief.
The two children were sitting on the living room couch, and Wilson’s 5-year-old daughter observed what happened between her mother and the defendant.
“Daddy was beating up my mommy,” the child said to a Child Protective Services agent hours later. “He punched her, and then there was blood everywhere. I wanted to talk to him and tell him to stop, but I was scared. I didn’t want to step in all the blood. Then he kicked her. That was bad. Mommy ran out the door and said, `I’m dying.”’
According to sheriff’s investigators, Hicks allegedly used a chef’s kitchen knife to stab the victim in the neck, back, chest and right hand.
Neighbors called 911, and deputies converged on the location within a few minutes.
Wilson was taken to nearby Riverside University Medical Center, where she died about a half-hour later.
Witnesses gave deputies a description of the defendant and the vehicle he was driving. Deputies spotted the car minutes later on Pheasant Knoll Way and followed Hicks to his mother’s residence, where he was taken into custody without incident.
He has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.