Jurors are deliberating the fate of a felon accused of fatally stabbing his 66-year-old housemate in Jurupa Valley because he didn’t like the victim shouting at him.
Kyle Lee Gallardo, 37, could face 26 years to life in state prison if convicted of first-degree murder, and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony, in the slaying of James Heckel.
After nearly two weeks of testimony, the prosecution and defense rested Tuesday, and jurors began deliberations at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Gallardo rented a room in Heckel’s single-story house at 6075 Alicante Way, which was directly adjacent to the defendant’s parents’ home.
Deputy District Attorney Janet Hasegawa wrote in a trial brief that Gallardo’s parents were unable to cope with him because of his schizophrenia and barred him from staying with them.
Arrangements were made for Gallardo to rent space in Heckel’s house, and the defendant and victim resided together for six months prior to the attack, according to the prosecution.
On the night of Feb. 9, 2015, the two men got into an argument after Heckel discovered Gallardo had used a disproportionately large share of cell phone data on a shared line, Hasegawa said.
She said the argument culminated with the victim yelling profanities at Gallardo, who retreated to his bedroom, incensed. The defendant seethed in bed while Heckel watched television in the living room, where he was also using oxygen for an undisclosed breathing disorder, Hawegawa alleged.
Gallardo jumped out of bed shortly after 9 p.m. and went to the kitchen, where he allegedly grabbed a large knife, then proceeded into the living room and plunged the blade into the victim.
“The defendant stabbed the victim in the neck, chest and face,” Hasegawa alleged in her trial brief. “The victim stood up and put out his hands. The defendant said he (then) stabbed the victim in the nose area, and the blade broke.”
According to the prosecutor, Gallardo later admitted to sheriff’s detectives that he returned to the kitchen for another knife, but when he went to resume his attack on Heckel, he found the victim dead on the floor.
At that point, Gallardo went to his parents’ home, awakened them by banging on the garage door, and informed them of what had happened and to call 911, which his father did, according to the prosecution.
Gallardo allegedly made spontaneous statements and admissions from his first contact with deputies during his arrest, as well as throughout interviews, confessing responsibility.
Over the ensuing five years, the defendant changed attorneys several times, and all of them argued that the diagnosed schizophrenic was mentally incompetent to stand trial, leading to multiple evaluations by different psychiatric specialists, according to court papers.
Ultimately, the court found one evaluator’s findings that Gallardo was fully capable of distinguishing between right and wrong and understood the consequences of his actions to be valid, paving the way for his trial.
Court records show he has prior convictions for making criminal threats and assault resulting in great bodily injury, for which he served time in state prison, though part of the sentence was spent in a state mental hospital.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: