Opening statements in Escondido hatchet attack - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Opening statements in Escondido hatchet attack

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VISTA (CNS) - A Border Patrol agent planned to kill his estranged wife and her new boyfriend at a home in Escondido but instead carried out a hatchet attack on another couple sleeping in a different bedroom, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Gamalier Reyes Rivera, 34, is charged with four counts of attempted murder, two counts each of torture and aggravated mayhem and one count of burglary.

In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney George Loyd told a jury that Rivera left his apartment in Imperial Beach about 1 a.m. on July 9, 2009, and took a cab to the home in Escondido.

Rivera was armed with two hatchets went he set off to kill his estranged wife, Erika Von der Hyde, and her new boyfriend, Loyd said.

"He had a plan," the prosecutor said.

In April 2005, Von der Hyde had gone into Rivera's bedroom and found a "to-do list" with the words "How to kill her and get away with it," Loyd told the jury.

Rivera and Von der Hyde were married in 2002, Loyd said. The defendant joined the Border Patrol in 2003 and the couple had a daughter, the prosecutor said.

In 2005, the couple filed for divorce but reconciled and got remarried in 2007, Loyd said.

They filed for divorce again in 2009 and were living apart and dating other people when he tried to kill her, Loyd said.

Defense attorney Bob Bernstein called the case a tragedy and urged jurors to try to understand the dynamics of what happened that night before deciding the case.

Chris Anguiano testified that he was awakened the night of the attack by his dog barking. Anguiano said he reached for his glasses on a window sill and was struck in the chest, back and face.

The witness - who was left blind and with brain damage - testified that he "didn't know what was happening in the room or who was hitting me."

Anguiano said he thought the attacker was trying to kill him. The witness said he bit the attacker's finger off, then passed out and was in a coma for two months.

Anguiano's girlfriend, Samantha Shaffer - who was also cut by the hatchet in the leg, knee and big toe - identified Rivera as the assailant and said he didn't say anything during the attack.

"He was just yelling," the woman testified.

Von der Hyde, her boyfriend, and her daughter were asleep in other bedrooms and were not injured. Von der Hyde had moved into the Escondido home - owned by her boyfriend - just four days earlier, Loyd said.

Rivera was arrested about 15 minutes later at a nearby convenience store, where he was trying to call for a ride, Loyd said

The defendant faces multiple life terms in prison if convicted, the prosecutor said.

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