Jurors in second day of deliberations in stabbing trial

June 04, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

Jury deliberations began Monday afternoon in the trial of a 40-year-old El Centro man accused of fatally stabbing 19-year-old Edward De La Cruz of Harbor City on July 1, 2001.

Deliberations were to continue this morning.

Salvador Serrato seemed calm Monday as he listened to Deputy District Attorney Susana Salgado give her closing arguments in which she labeled him a cold-blooded murderer.

Salgado said Serrato did not stab De La Cruz in self-defense but instead intended to murder De La Cruz.

Salgado said Serrato was on the lawn of a residence in the 200 block of East Olive Avenue in El Centro around sunrise July 1. He was talking to a friend, Manuel Vasquez, when De La Cruz arrived.


It was unclear how but, "He (Serrato) called Eddie a bitch," said Salgado. De La Cruz responded with one punch.

When De La Cruz threw the punch he slipped and fell on his back. Serrato then kicked him several times while he was on his back. Salgado described evidence she said proves De La Cruz was on the ground when he was kicked.

"The shirt he was wearing was covered in dirt and his back was covered in bruises," she told jurors.

Vasquez then stepped in and tried to hold back Serrato. He broke free and went after De La Cruz again with a knife he pulled out of his pocket.

Salgado claimed Serrato said, "I'm going to kill him."

Serrato stabbed De La Cruz once on the left side of his upper chest, with the knife going right into the left ventricle of his heart. Serrato then left after telling Vasquez and a 17-year-old girl to clean up the mess.

Salgado said Serrato went to a friend's house to change his clothes. The friend also gave him a ride to his girlfriend's house.

Serrato's girlfriend drove him to Calexico. Along the way, he told her to stop along a canal bank to discard the knife. He placed the knife between two tree branches and tossed it into the canal, Salgado said.

He then went to Mexico for two weeks.

Salgado asked why would act in such a manner if Serrato had been merely defending himself?

Serrato's attorney, Edward Rivera of Calexico, claimed De La Cruz struck Serrato several times with an object in his hand while an unknown man choked him.

He said Serrato stabbed De La Cruz in self-defense. He claimed Serrato did not mean to kill De La Cruz.

Salgado, who followed Rivera with more closing statements, said Serrato never complained of pain to his neck or had any marks after allegedly being choked.

"He did not deserve to die the way he did," said Salgado of De La Cruz.

"Mr. Serrato killed Eddie because his pride was hurt," she said.

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

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