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Murdered girl stabbed many times

May 09, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Pedro Gutierrez Archuleta, the 22-year-old man from here suspected of killing a teenage girl, is the live-in boyfriend of one of the victim's older sisters, authorities said Wednesday.

That information on Archuleta's connection to the victim, Jovita Becerra, 16, was released by Deputy District Attorney Karla Davis as police are expected to ask for a murder charge today.

Authorities have been cautious about details about the case because of the ongoing investigation, but Davis released some information on Archuleta's involvement with the victim's family. She also said Jovita had multiple stab wounds.

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Davis said while authorities are still trying to determine a motive for the attack, "it does not appear there was any type of sexual assault."

Davis added along with his being the live-in boyfriend of an older sister of Jovita, Archuleta has children with that sister.

Davis said she was unsure how many children the sister and Archuleta have, but did say they have shared a residence apart from the apartment complex where the murder occurred.

Archuleta remained in county jail this morning after being arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder. His bail is $1 million.

He was arrested hours after Jovita was stabbed to death in the apartment she shared with her mother in the 400 block of North First Street.

Brawley Police Chief Henry Graham said police received a 911 call about the stabbing at 9:03 p.m. Monday. He and Davis have declined to say when they think the stabbing occurred.

What they have said is Jovita was home alone and there were no signs of forced entry into the apartment.

Neighbors who live on both sides of the apartment said the first they knew of the crime was when the mother came outside crying for help.

One neighbor, Michael Benda, 55, said he was home during the evening Monday but he never heard any noise from the next-door apartment.

He said it wasn't until Jovita's mother pounded on his door crying for help that he knew something had occurred. Benda said his first action was to call police.

Benda said he saw the apartment had been torn up as if a struggle had occurred.

"The way it was torn up, I can't understand why I didn't hear anything," Benda said, but added he had his television and fan on all evening.

Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said he had just arrived home and was turning on his lights when he heard the mother's cry for help.

The neighbor, age 82, said he did not have a telephone so he ran across the alley to ask another neighbor to call police.

That neighbor also saw inside the victim's apartment that there was evidence of a struggle

Authorities have declined to say what evidence gathered led them to Archuleta as their chief suspect. Authorities also have declined to speak in detail about the weapon used in the stabbing.

Graham did say Wednesday that Archuleta is the "only one the investigation has focused on at this point."

Investigators were expected to turn over their evidence to the District Attorney's Office today and the DA was expected to file a murder charge against Archuleta before the day's end.

If charges are filed, Archuleta could face an arraignment today.

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

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