A 41-year-old man Saturday was starting his sentence of 40 years to life for robbing, stabbing and attempting to kill a good Samaritan Zamboni driver in Santa Ana.

Abel Perez Jr.

Abel Perez Jr. was convicted last month after a deadlocked jury led to a mistrial in August.

Perez’s girlfriend at the time of the Nov. 8, 2012, attack — 29-year-old Devon Sue Cornelison — pleaded guilty May 2014 to robbery with a gang enhancement and was sentenced last month to three years in prison, or about the same time she had spent in custody awaiting trial.

The victim — Miguel Delgado — testified that he had just gotten off work as a Zamboni driver at an ice rink in Anaheim and stopped at a 7-Eleven store in Santa Ana to get cash for his rent and gas when he was approached by Cornelison. A Zamboni is a small vehicle used to scrape clean the surface of an ice rink prior to skating.

Cornelison asked the victim if he had any jumper cables. When he said he did not, she said she had some and asked if he’d help her jump-start her car, Delgado testified.

Delgado said he drove her to an apartment complex at 917 N. Bewley St., where she said a 1995 SUV she was using had broken down. Delgado testified he grew leery because he knew they were in a gang-infested neighborhood and tried to back out of helping the woman.

Perez suddenly approached Delgado’s 2002 Nissan Delgado and, before he knew it, the defendant was also in the car, the victim said.

“He threatened me, asking for my money and keys,” Delgado testified.

Delgado said that when he resisted, Perez “stabbed me in the chest and said, ‘Give me your money and keys before I (expletive) kill you.'”

Perez then stabbed the victim in the knee and “kept on threatening me,” Delgado testified. “I felt warm blood gushing out, so I ran out of the car.”

A knife-wielding Perez kept chasing him, Delgado testified. When he heard Cornelison starting the car, the victim ran back to the Nissan because it “was my ex-girlfriend’s car and I didn’t want it to get stolen,” Delgado testified.

A scuffle ensued in the car as Delgado struggled to push Cornelison out while Perez was stabbing at his head, according to Delgado.

He said he tried to call police on his cell phone, “but my hands were too slippery with blood.”

Eventually, Delgado shoved Cornelison out, but she grabbed the phone and car keys, Delgado testified. Cornelison, however, left her purse behind, he said.

Delgado — now locked inside the car — offered to give Cornelison the purse back if she handed the keys and phone back to him, but she refused and ran away, Delgado testified.

He said he managed to get Perez to back off and flee when he leaned on the horn for help. Neighbors in the apartment complex eventually heard the ruckus and called police.

Delgado spent a week in a hospital intensive care unit, where he was treated for 14 stab wounds to his chest, hands, head and a knee.

He said he had to quit his job at the ice rink after being injured because the cold atmosphere was too painful on his joints.

The pair was caught after Santa Ana police put a trace on the victim’s cell phone, according to Deputy District Attorney Anna McIntire. The trace led police to Perez’s cousin, who had bought the phone from Cornelison and Perez, she said.

The purse that Cornelison left behind included an ATM card belonging to Perez’s sister, according to the prosecutor, who said Perez’s DNA was “all over” the SUV.

The sentencing was Friday.

— City News Service

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