CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A man who fatally stabbed his pregnant estranged wife in front of the couple’s children was convicted Friday of second-degree murder, but jurors acquitted the defendant of murder charges for the death of the victim’s unborn fetus.
Jesus Arteaga Garcia, 31, also was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of child abuse because the murder was witnessed by the couple’s 4- and 6-year- old sons.
Sentencing was scheduled March 12 before South Bay Judge Ana Espana.
Prosecutors had charged the defendant with first-degree murder and a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders in the Dec. 10, 2009 slaying of 28-year-old Maribel Arteaga and her fetus.
At the time, the victim, a Customs and Border Protection agent, was two months pregnant with another man’s child.
In an earlier hearing, a Chula Vista police officer testified he was first on the scene and recorded a conversation with the victim because he believed she would not survive. In the recording, which was played in court, the victim told Sgt. Carlos Valdivia that her estranged husband stabbed her in the back with a knife and that he was mad at her.
The victim’s boyfriend, Carlos Orga, also a CBP agent, testified that on the day of the slaying, he was watching television with the victim when the defendant knocked on the door. Orga said he got up and went to his bedroom while the victim answered the door.
While in the bedroom, Orga heard a commotion and a bang, then the injured victim came into the bedroom with her children, saying the defendant stabbed her, he said.
Authorities said the defendant fled to Mexico after the slaying. He was extradited to the United States in July 2011.
In order to ensure the extradition, U.S. authorities had to agree not to seek the death penalty.