Accused wife killer to defend self at trial

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Armando Perez arraignmentSAN DIEGO — A man accused of killing his 19-year-old estranged wife in a men’s restroom at San Diego City College three years ago can represent himself at his upcoming trial, a judge ruled today.

Armando Gabriel Perez, 40, is charged with murder and lying in wait in the Oct. 12, 2010, death of his estranged wife, Diana Gonzalez.

Judge Charles Rogers — while telling Perez it was almost always a bad idea — granted the defendant’s motion to represent himself at trial, scheduled for Jan. 8.

Perez was arrested in Tijuana in February 2012 and handed over to San Diego authorities six months later.

At the defendant’s initial arraignment in August 2012, Perez told Judge Robert F. O’Neill that he was guilty as charged, but a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

Deputy District Attorney Teresa Santana told O’Neill that Perez and the victim wed in December 2009 and had a baby daughter a week later. Perez had a history of domestic violence against Gonzalez and, at one point, told the victim he would kill her or her family if she ever left him, the prosecutor alleged.

When she enrolled in classes at San Diego City College in the fall of 2010, Perez went with her even though he was not enrolled, Santana said.

The night of the murder, the victim’s family gave her a ride to school and students in her class noticed Perez perched in a tree and later saw him waiting for her, according to the prosecutor.

The victim’s parents reported her missing, and later a man discovered her body in a men’s restroom on campus. She had been stabbed in the neck and all over her body, Santana said.

Perez faces life in prison without parole if convicted. U.S. authorities agreed not to seek the death penalty in return for the defendant’s extradition from Mexico.

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