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Defendant blames God for baby's stabbing

May 21, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

He claimed God made him do it.

"You need alas (‘wings' in Spanish)," Benjamin Jason Escobar claimed, saying God told him he would get his wings by killing someone.

So Escobar, of Huntington Park, decided to stab his 6-month-old cousin in the neck May 14, 2001 with the intent to kill him.

Escobar, now 20, pleaded guilty Friday to the attempted murder of the infant. Escobar is claiming he is insane. A jury will make that determination in this sanity phase of the trial.


On Monday Escobar testified while both the infant's family and his family watched.

"You need to get winged," Escobar claimed God told him.

He testified God was not the only one talking to him. He claimed several voices, from unknown people, would tell him things.

"The voices were saying they had powers," said Escobar, and the voices told him they would give him powers if he killed someone.

So Escobar, who was living in Imperial with his aunt Theresa Robles on the 600 block of Yucca Street for about a week and a half before the incident, was pondering whether to kill an 8-year-old cousin living in the house.

He then decided the infant would be an easier target. Escobar said he walked into the room where the baby was sleeping, in a bed surrounded by pillows He used a knife he found in the garage and stabbed the baby in the neck.

"Nothing happened," he said.

"They (the voices in his head) were supposed to come and get me," he added, but the voices didn't, so he panicked.

He hid the knife between the bed and the wall, took the infant outside through the garage and left him for dead in a trash can across the street.

Imperial County Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen asked Escobar if he left the knife in the baby's neck for a while. He said he didn't, only for about three seconds.

Owen asked him, "Isn't it true you told Imperial police you left the knife inside for seven seconds and then turned it around?"

He answered "no."

Owen asked Escobar if he had used illegal drugs. He admitted to using LSD, cocaine and marijuana. He said he did not use methamphetamine or any other drug.

He claimed he started hearing voices in December 2000. Later Monday, his mother, Norma Escobar Garcia, testified her son changed that month.

She claimed he stopped associating with the same crowd, a crowd she had told him she disapproved of.

She said her son cleaned out his room, throwing all his CDs and magazines into the trash. He painted his room, which was full of graffiti, all white.

She said Escobar told her God spoke to him and told him he didn't need to listen to that music or look at those magazines anymore.

Escobar's grandmother, Maria Escobar, testified she would hear her grandson screaming at night, "Get the f—- out of my head! Leave me alone!" while playing the radio at high volume.

She said she saw him once covering his head with a pillow with a stereo playing very loudly. She asked him what was wrong. He told her he had a really bad headache.

She asked if she could help him and he simply replied, "No, no one can help me."

She claimed every night she stayed there, which she did frequently, she would hear her grandson screaming at night while he played his music loudly.

On March 3, 2001 while Escobar's mother and her husband were watching television, Escobar walked outside, wearing only a towel.

On the front lawn, with a pair of scissors, he proceeded to circumcise himself, according to Norma Escobar.

His mother, who saw him through the window, ran outside to stop him, as did her brother, Manuel Escobar.

Manuel Escobar testified he saw blood coming from his nephew's crotch. He used force to take the scissors from his nephew's hands.

Manuel Escobar testified that his nephew got angry when he took the scissors and his nephew started yelling at him and the others around him, screaming, "You're all bad!"

Manuel Escobar also said his nephew told him God said to circumcise himself so angels would come down and take him.

Instead an ambulance came and took him to the hospital for three days. After he was released he was to see a psychologist and psychiatrist. He only went to two appointments with a psychologist before going to Imperial.

After the circumcision incident, Escobar said he received another message from God, according to his mother.

Garcia said one day she picked him up from the house so they could go to a restaurant for lunch together. While they were eating he told her he wanted to tell her something but didn't want her to get angry

He told her he had wrecked her pickup two days before. She testified her son told her God told him their house was going to blow up.

So he panicked, jumped in her truck that was parked in the garage and tried to drive away. While backing up, the passenger door struck the side of the garage.

Testimony in the case continued this morning.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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