A Santa Ana man was convicted of second-degree murder Tuesday for fatally stabbing a victim who owed him $50.
Mario Alberto Rodriguez testified that the victim, 26-year-old Paul Anthony Garcia, gave him a debit card to pay off the $50 debt, but it had no value, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson.
When Rodriguez spotted Garcia on March 9, 2013, the defendant, with two friends in tow, chased the victim for a few blocks into the el Chile Picante restaurant, the prosecutor said.
Restaurant employees told Rodriguez the business was equipped with surveillance cameras and told him to get out, the prosecutor said. He complied but waited by the exit for Garcia, the prosecutor said.
The defendant, now 26, then chased Garcia across the street to a parking lot, where he stabbed the victim in the chest, Mendolson said.
Rodriguez fled to Mexico, but after returning, he saw news reports that police were looking for him and he again went south of the border, Mendolson said. The defendant was arrested in June of that year by police in Mexico and extradited back to Orange County, the prosecutor said.
Rodriguez has a prior conviction for possession of a controlled substance for sale to benefit a gang, which is a strike, so he faces 36 years to life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 7.
–City News Service