SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The case of a New Mexico man accused of killing a preschool teacher who was trying to stop him from beating his girlfriend is in the hands of a jury.
Jurors are scheduled Monday to continue deliberations after hearing closing arguments in a trial involving Adrian Gonzales. The 31-year-old is accused of fatally stabbing 21-year-old Victoriano “Mo” Moises Byrne-Gonzales and stabbing another man during a December 2011 dispute at the Butterfly Springs Mobile Home Park in Pojoaque. He’s also accused of assaulting his then-girlfriend, Natasha Romero.
Prosecutors say Byrne-Gonzales was trying to do the right thing when he stabbed in the neck while attempting to stop Gonzales from beating Romero.
But defense attorneys said Gonzales was only responding to “two bullies” who tried to take the law into their own hands.
Gonzales testified Friday that he tried to hide from Byrne-Gonzales and friend Santiago Cordova and stabbed them only in self-defense. “I didn’t want to fight,” Gonzales said on the stand. “I got my own problems to deal with.”
According to Gonzales, his fight began with Romero when she forgot his cell phone at his Dixon home and caused him to miss a long-scheduled appointment with a district attorney. He said the two began to fight and Romero started drinking heavily.
Gonzales admitted hitting Romero with his cell phone but said it was an accident. He also said he grabbed Romero by the hair and said it was because she was trying to jump out of a moving vehicle.
In addition, Gonzales said earlier in the day he had prevented two men from stealing a television from Romero’s mom’s home and later confused Byrne-Gonzales and Cordova for the earlier burglars.
During cross examination, District Attorney Petra Benavidez-Schwartz asked Gonzales what he meant by telling Romero to “ride with him.” Defense attorneys denied that it was coded language to Romero to get her story straight with him.
Defense attorney Joseph Campbell said during closing arguments that Gonzales didn’t mention anything about the stabbings to the first officers who pulled him over. “He didn’t know he had killed anyone. Why didn’t he know? He didn’t intend to kill anyone,” he said. “The only thing he intended to do was get out of that situation.”
Defense attorneys said Gonzales only grabbed his girlfriend only because a red truck was driving down the road and might have hit her.
Prosecutors argued, however, that Gonzales had grabbed her and bit her ear.
During another recorded phone call, Gonzales is heard mentioning the truck to his girlfriend, who said she didn’t remember it. The girlfriend tells Gonzales that her ear hurt. But when Gonzales asks her why, she says, “I’m not going to say it on the phone.”
Benavidez-Schwartz told the jury that Gonzales’ actions didn’t make sense for a man who was just trying to defend himself. “Think if his actions were reasonable. Do they make sense?” she asked the jury. “You’ll find it doesn’t.”