Mira Mesa man convicted of first-degree murder in wife's death - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mira Mesa man convicted of first-degree murder in wife's death

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Mira Mesa man who said his wife was critically injured in a fall down a flight of stairs was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in her beating and strangulation death.

David Patrick Ditto faces 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 3 by Judge Kenneth So.

Jurors began deliberating late Wednesday afternoon and reached a verdict Friday morning. The judge delayed reading of the jury's decision until Monday because all parties could not make it to the downtown courthouse on Friday.

Members of Ditto's family gasped, shook and cried as a clerk read the verdict today.

"Sons of bitches," Ditto's step-father said from the back row of a crowded courtroom.

Ditto, 44, testified last week that his 38-year-old wife, Karina, went upstairs to use the bathroom the night of March 11 when he heard a cat screech and a loud "thud, thud, thud, thud, thud" coming down the stairs. He said he got off the couch and found his wife lying at the foot of the staircase.

Paramedics and firefighters who responded to the 911 call shortly before 1 a.m. expected to see a victim injured from a fall, but what they found was very different, prosecutor Claudine Ruiz said.

Paramedics noted that there were injuries to the victim's right temple and a cut to the back of her head, but there was no active bleeding even though the victim was covered in blood, according to Ruiz.

The defendant also had scratches on his face from his wife fighting back, the prosecutor alleged.

A firefighter was concerned about the circumstances under which the woman was found and called police, Ruiz said.

The victim suffered a brain injury from lack of oxygen and was taken off life support two days later.

Nurses looking after Karina Ditto hours before she died on March 14 noticed extensive bruising on her body, according to Ruiz.

Ruiz said the last two years of the couple's 16-year marriage had been like a roller-coaster ride, and Karina Ditto was "ready to get off."

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