SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man accused of fatally stabbing his 19-year-old estranged wife in a San Diego City College restroom more than two years ago must stand trial on a murder charge, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Armando Gabriel Perez, 39, was arrested in Tijuana a year ago and handed over to San Diego authorities six months later in connection with the Oct. 12, 2010, slaying of Diana Gonzalez.
The victim's mother, Conception Carranza, testified that her daughter told her the defendant choked her during a two-day disappearance about a month before she was killed.
Carranza said her daughter never came home from a night class at San Diego City College in September 2010, then showed up at the family home two days later with blood all over her face.
"She said, 'Look at what he (Perez) did to me,"' Carranza testified. "He was choking me."
Carranza said Perez showed up at the door and her husband got him to leave.
The victim's mother said they reported the abuse to police and that her daughter obtained a restraining order against the defendant.
Judge Robert F. O'Neill ruled that enough evidence was presented during the two-day preliminary hearing for Perez to proceed to trial on a murder charge with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. A Superior Court arraignment was scheduled for Feb. 28.
Perez faces life in prison without parole if convicted. U.S. authorities agreed not to seek the death penalty in return for the defendant's extradition from Mexico.
Deputy District Attorney Teresa Santana told a judge at Perez's arraignment last August that he and the victim wed in December 2009 and had a baby daughter a week later. Perez had a history of domestic violence against Gonzalez and at one point, told the victim he would kill her or her family if she ever left him, the prosecutor alleged.
When she enrolled in classes at San Diego City College in the fall of 2010, Perez went with her even though he was not enrolled, Santana said.
The night of the murder, the victim's family gave her a ride to school and students in her class noticed Perez perched in a tree and later saw him waiting for her, according to the prosecutor.
The victim's parents reported her missing, and later a man discovered her body in a men's restroom on campus. She had been stabbed in the neck and all over her body, Santana said.
Perez ran from the scene and took the trolley and hid out in Mexico, Santana said.