YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

Escobar pleads not guilty by reason of insanity to charge of stabbing toddler By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

August 03, 2001

Benjamin Jason Escobar, accused of stabbing his 7-month-old cousin in the neck and leaving him in a trash bin in Imperial, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Escobar's case is expected to go to trial in November.

Escobar is facing a charge of premeditated attempted murder in connection with the May 14 stabbing of his cousin Anthony Escalera.

Escobar, a Huntington Park resident, had been staying with family in Imperial when the stabbing occurred.

Authorities have alleged Escobar, 19, told them he heard voices that told him to kill. He reportedly first thought about killing an older relative but then decided to go after Anthony, according to investigators.

Anthony was stabbed in the neck, taken across the street and left in a trash bin with a white trash bag placed over him.


When the grandmother who was at the home discovered Anthony was missing and found a pool of blood in the bed in which he had been sleeping, she began a frantic search.

Authorities said Anthony was found by police just in time. They said if he had been in the trash bin much longer he could have succumbed to his injuries and the heat in the bin.

Escobar's recent plea of not guilty by reason of insanity will allow him to either face trial on whether he committed the crime or only face trial on the sanity issue, according to Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen.

She said if Escobar only stands trial on his sanity issues, the burden of proof will shift from the prosecution to the defense to show he was insane when the stabbing occurred.

Escobar's family has hired El Centro attorney Thomas Storey to represent him. Storey was unavailable for comment on his client's plea.

Owen said because of the plea, two doctors have been assigned to examine Escobar and give reports on his mental status. The doctors must provide their reports prior to the start of the trial.

Owen said, "It is the people's position that he was mentally sane."

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles