It took a little more than an hour for a jury to come back today with a guilty verdict for Ruben Retana Perez, who slit the throat of his ex-girlfriend (and mother of his son), stabbed her twice in the chest and ran over her body.
The 33-year-old Whittier man now faces a sentence of 26 years to life in prison for the 2001 murder of Rocio Leon, who was on her way to work at the Orange County Register distribution center in Garden Grove the morning she died.
Perez had an on-again, off-again relationship with Leon that produced a baby boy in 1999. But, following the boy's birth. Perez became abusive toward Leon and her child from another relationship.
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Around 3:30 a.m. on April 18, 2001, Perez was driving Leon to work when he got out of the car, walked over to Leon and slit her throat with a kitchen knife. He then stabbed her twice in the chest, got back in the car and ran over Leon's body before fleeing the scene.
Perez went to his work that same morning and acquired a $1,000 cash advance. He never returned there, and his car was dumped in Stanton. An investigation linked him to Leon's murder, and a warrant was issued for Perez's arrest on Dec. 17, 2002.
He might have gotten away with it, too, were he not arrested for DUI in Arkansas on July 19, 2008. He identified himself as Yovani Cortez, but police in Arkansas discovered his true identity and the outstanding warrant for his arrest. Perez was extradited back to Orange County on the murder charge in September 2008.
The quick-deliberating jury found him guilty today of one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 16 in Santa Ana.