VISTA (CBS8) - A jury found a former border patrol agent guilty of two counts of premeditated attempted murder Wednesday. Prosecutors said Gamalier Reyes Rivera intended to kill his estranged wife and her boyfriend with a hatchet, but entered the wrong bedroom.
"He tried to cut my whole neck off which hacked my collar bone here," 31 year old Chris Anguiano told CBS8. Anguiano was asleep in an Escondido home with his girlfriend at the time, when he was jarred awake by a hatchet hitting his chest. He recalled, "I just couldn't believe who was in my room hitting me."
Anguiano was renting a room in the house in the 800 block of Upas Street that he had found in a Craigslist ad. Prosecutors say he and his then-girlfriend were not the intended targets.
They say 34 year old Gamalier Reyes Rivera, a border patrol agent at the time, broke into the home with the intent to kill his estranged wife, Erika Von der Hyde and her boyfriend, Jesus Vinas, but mistakenly went into wrong bedroom.
Anguiano told CBS8, "I felt a blow to my face. I thought I was dying." His girlfriend at the time, Samantha Shaffer, suffered cuts to her legs and the tip of one of her toes was severed.
Anguiano, who had to be revived twice, is now blind from losing so much blood and oxygen, and has to rely on his parents for help. His father, Santos Anguiano, said, "I have to help my son do everything, he needs 24 hour care."
Chris Anguiano was one of several victims who testified in the trial against Rivera. Late Wednesday, jurors found Rivera guilty of two counts of premeditated attempted murder for trying to kill Von der Hyde and Vinas. The jury found Rivera not guilty of torturing Anguiano and Shaffer. Still, Anguiano's father said, "He has two life terms against him, and mayhem and burglary, so that's going to put him away for a long long time, and I'm very happy."
Deputy District Attorney George Loyd said, "I expected a fair verdict and I think it was a fair verdict."
Anguiano said, "I've been waiting a year, 6 months and 19 days for this date to come, so I can stop counting and move on." Anguiano says he fought through depression while enduring a painful recovery, adjusting to his blindness, and having to learn how to speak again. He says now, however, he has a positive outlook on life. "Don't feel sorry for me," he said. His desire now is to inspire other survivors of violent crimes, "I want them to know there is hope. I'm a proven fact and we can all work together to get our life back. I'm here to help anyone who needs help."
Anguiano says he will be back in court to give a Victim Impact Statement at Rivera's sentencing, which is scheduled at the end of March. Rivera, who has a daughter with Von der Hyde, faces up to two terms of life in prison, but there is a possibility of parole.