SAN DIEGO – A man charged with murdering his 19-year-old estranged wife at San Diego City College nearly seven years ago testified Wednesday that he “lost it” when she told him that he was never going to see their daughter again.
“I just lost it right there,” Armando Perez testified. “I felt like something came out of me. I just lost control. I lost my mind.”
Perez, 44, told a jury that he remembered seeing Diana Gonzalez on the floor in a pool of blood.
“I couldn’t believe what I had done,” the defendant testified.
Perez said he took the trolley and a bus to Chula Vista, stole his roommate’s car and drove to the border. Perez hid in Mexico for a year and a half before being arrested. He was extradited to San Diego in 2012.
In her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Jessica Lees told the jury that Perez waited for Gonzalez as classes let out the night of Oct. 12, 2010.
Lees said Perez walked with Gonzalez the opposite way from where her parents were waiting to pick her up, then strangled her and inflicted stab wounds all over her body in a men’s bathroom on the campus where she was a student.
The prosecutor said Perez desecrated his wife’s body, carving the word “bitch” on her back.
Perez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and lying in wait in November 2014, but an appeals court sent the case back to San Diego Superior Court, ruling that a judge erred by allowing Perez to plead guilty without a lawyer in a case in which he faced a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Lees said Perez was married with two children when he met Gonzalez. She was 18 and he was 36 when she got pregnant in 2009, the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor said Perez became obsessed with Gonzalez and was abusive, causing her to take out a temporary restraining order against him a month before she was killed.
Defense attorney Bart Sheela told the jury that Gonzalez originally gave Perez her phone number when she was 17, but he told her she was too young.
After they started dating, Gonzalez tried to keep their relationship from her parents, but Perez insisted on telling them and let them know that she was pregnant, Sheela said.
Sheela said Perez went to City College the night of Oct. 12, 2010, because he needed to see his wife and talk about seeing his daughter.
The defendant saw Gonzalez with a male friend and was going to confront him, but left and returned to the campus with a knife, Sheela said.
Perez killed Gonzalez in a crime of passion, Sheela told the jury.