Husband accused of murder says wife fell down stairs - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Husband accused of murder says wife fell down stairs

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Mira Mesa man who blamed his wife's death on an accidental fall down a flight of stairs in their home pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge.

San Diego police arrested David Patrick Ditto, 43, outside his house in the 7700 block of Canyon Point Lane about 8:45 p.m. Thursday, SDPD homicide Lt. Ernie Herbert said.

Shortly before 1 a.m. on March 12, Ditto made an emergency call to report that his 38-year-old spouse, Karina, had fallen down a flight of stairs in their residence and was badly injured, according to Herbert.

Medics performed CPR on the woman at the scene, then took her to a hospital, where she was admitted in critical condition. She died of her injuries on March 14.

"The injuries that this victim has are significant, they're extensive, and they are consistent with strangulation and blunt force trauma," Deputy District Attorney Claudine Ruiz told reporters outside court after today's arraignment.

The victim had extensive bruising all over her body, including multiple bruises to her left temple, her face, jaw line, arms, legs and even a pattern consistent with a stomp or footprint to her leg, the prosecutor said.

"All these injuries were not consistent with the story that the defendant gave that she fell down 11 steps which are carpeted," Ruiz said.

The couple have two children -- ages 14 and 10 -- were in the home when their mother died, the prosecutor said.

A report that Ditto's father told police that there was marital discord between the victim and the defendant was untrue, said defense attorney Keith Rutman. He said Ditto's family was close-knit and were supportive of the defendant.

Rutman read a statement from the family, which said in part, "While we respect the role of the police department to advocate for victims of domestic violence, in this case they have made a terrible, terrible mistake that is causing more pain for an already grieving family."

"We're completely confident that these charges will be dismissed. We're shocked and extremely disappointed that David and his children are being put through this unnecessary trauma while still trying to come to terms with the loss of their beloved wife and mother. David loved his wife more than anything in the world except his two children, and he's very concerned about them."

In court, Ditto shook his head and cried as Ruiz detailed the allegations against him.

"He loved his wife and he's heartbroken that she's deceased and he's even more heartbroken that he's being accused of murdering her," Rutman said outside court. "Everyone in the family will tell you that there's no marital discord in that home. There's no possible motive for this."

If the prosecution cannot prove intent to kill, that makes the case against Ditto a manslaughter case, Rutman said. If there was a fight that went awry and the victim died as the result of an accident, that would be manslaughter, the defense attorney said.

Judge David Szumowski ordered Ditto held on $2 million bail. A status conference was set for April 19 and a preliminary hearing for May 2.

The defendant faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted, Ruiz said.


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