Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Orleans, LA: Gretna man is found guilty of stabbing ex-girlfriend to death

A Gretna man was convicted Tuesday night of killing his ex-girlfriend by repeatedly plunging a kitchen knife deep into her neck, even as she held their 2-year-old son who suffered cuts in the attack. A Jefferson Parish jury deliberated two hours before finding Oscar A. Madrid, 25, guilty of second-degree murder and cruelty to a juvenile.

Madrid never denied he killed Baleria Lopez on May 2, 2010, inside her Hero Drive home. But he claimed he flew into a rage when she allegedly told him she cared nothing about him or their three children.
Madrid admits he "cut" her. Lopez, 20, bled to death from a 3-inch-deep wound to the back of her neck and a 4 1/2-inch-deep gash across the left side of her neck that severed her carotid artery. Forensic pathologist Karen Ross said the knife had a serrated blade, and the wound to the side of her neck showed signs of a sawing-like motion.
"When you cut Baleria, this is what you did to her, is that correct?" Assistant District Attorney Angel Varnado asked Madrid, showing him a photograph of the gaping wound on the side of Lopez's neck.
"No, I didn't do that," Madrid said through an interpreter. "I have never seen that. Never."
Public defender Cal Fleming, who represented Madrid with Raul Guerra, argued Madrid was at most guilty of manslaughter, a homicide carried out in the heat of passion and a crime that carries a maximum 40-year sentence. Fleming pointed out that after his client rendered aid to the dying woman, he had her father call police and then tried to kill himself with a knife.
"Those are not the acts of a murderer," Fleming said in closing arguments. "But in a fit of rage, in a brief span of time, he killed the woman he loved."
His conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, a punishment 24th Judicial District Court Judge Ellen Kovach will hand down March 8.
Natives of Honduras, Lopez and Madrid began dating in 2006, but throughout the relationship he physically abused her, Assistant District Attorney Michael Smith argued. Lopez ended the relationship 10 days before she died, Smith said.
"He knew they were separated, and he couldn't control her anymore," he said.
Lopez's sister, Hilda Martinez, testified Monday that Madrid once beat her so badly that "it looked like her eye was going to come out." But Lopez would not call police. "She was too afraid that he would kill her, or he would do worse things to her," Martinez testified.
Jose Lopez, the victim's father, said he spent most of the night before his daughter was killed counseling Madrid. Early the next morning, Jose Lopez said he was awakened by a child's cry. He rushed into the living room, where his daughter's body was on the floor.
"The only thing I said was, 'You killed her, you son-of-a,' I said the word," he testified through an interpreter, weeping and burying his face in his handkerchief. "He said she was still alive. 'She's still alive. Help me resuscitate her.' When I saw that, the child was full of blood."
The boy, now 4 years old, suffered cuts to his head and one arm.
Madrid was arrested at the house and later confessed to Gretna Police Detective Richard Russ. "All he wanted to do was scare her," Detective David Canas, who interpreted the interrogation, told Russ. "That's why he wants to kill himself. What's he going to tell his kids. He doesn't want to go to jail. He wants to kill himself."
Yet in testimony Tuesday, Madrid accused the detectives of feeding him details for the confession. "I only told them what they wanted to hear," he said.

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