Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chula Vista, CA: Police: Dying agent identified estranged husband as her killer

CHULA VISTA (CNS) - A dying Customs and Border Protection agent identified her estranged husband as the person who stabbed her in an Chula Vista apartment she shared with her boyfriend, with whom she was expecting a child, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Jesus "Alex" Arteaga Garcia, 30, is charged with two counts of murder for the Dec. 10, 2009, slaying of Maribel Arteaga and her fetus. Garcia also faces child abuse counts because the killing took place in front of the 28-year-old victim's 4- and 6-year-old boys.

The defendant fled to Mexico after the killing but was extradited to the United States last July.

Garcia faces special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and multiple murders, which makes him eligible for life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

In order to ensure the defendant's extradition, authorities in the United States had to agree not to seek the death penalty, prosecutors said.

The first officer on the scene after the victim was stabbed testified that he recorded a conversation with her because he thought that she might not live.

"I truly believed that she was dying," Chula Vista police Sgt. Carlos Valdivia testified.

Valdivia said he found the victim lying on the floor in the apartment and tried to comfort her because he thought she was bleeding internally.

In the recording, which was played in court, the victim told Valdivia that her estranged husband stabbed her in the back with a knife and that he was mad at her.

Witnesses told authorities that Garcia frequented Mexico and had family there. Garcia was sheltered by his sister and parents in Northern Baja California until his arrest in Tijuana in January 2011, authorities said.

The victim's boyfriend, Carlos Orga, also a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, testified that he met the victim just before they went to Georgia for training in June 2009.

"We started hanging out together while we were at the academy (in Georgia)," Orga testified.

Orga said he and the victim -- who were both married at the time to other people -- moved in together in Chula Vista in October 2009, and the following month found out she was pregnant with his child.

The boyfriend said he'd never met his girlfriend's estranged husband and would go in the bedroom when Garcia would come over to visit the children.

The night of Dec. 10, 2009, Garcia knocked on the door while Orga and the victim were watching television, Orga testified. He said he went to the bedroom and heard the victim call to her children to come outside.

Orga said he next heard a commotion and a bang and the victim came in with the children and closed the door.

"She told me, 'Alex stabbed me,"' Orga testified.

Orga said he saw blood on her shoulder and grabbed his gun to see if anyone was outside, but found nobody. Once back inside, Orga said he called 911.

The witness said the victim's children seemed scared and were crying. The older boy kept asking, "Is she going to be OK?" Orga testified.

One of the boys also said something like, "My dad killed my mom," he said.

Orga said that after the training in Georgia, the victim told him that she had sent a photo of them to her sister and Garcia had seen it.

The witness admitted that the victim's children were told to refer to him as "Joe" so they wouldn't slip up in front of their father.

South Bay Judge Alvin Green Jr. will decide at the conclusion of the preliminary hearing whether there is enough evidence to order Garcia to stand trial.

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