Luis Angel Linares, 15, was stabbed eight times before he collapsed and died behind Saks Fifth Avenue on March 15, said forensic pathologist Robert Anthony of the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s office.
Anthony took the stand to testify on Wednesday, the third day of a preliminary hearing to determine if 14-year-old Ricardo Juarez will stand trial as an adult on charges of murdering Linares in furtherance of the interests of a criminal street gang. Only one of the eight stab wounds could have been fatal, according to the doctor, going through the ribs to sever a cluster of blood vessels, causing Linares to bleed to death internally. The fatal wound was one of several administered from behind, in addition to those incurred as Linares faced his attacker or attackers. Despite the account of an eyewitness who said he saw someone hurl something-possibly a rock-at Linares as he lay on the ground, and another eyewitness who said someone kicked him in the head after he was down, the doctor found no evidence of damage from those kinds of attacks. However, he said, it was not impossible that Linares could have been kicked and shown no marks.
Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins, representing Juarez, sought proof that Linares’s wounds could have been caused by more than one knife-and more than one knifer. Anthony agreed that “thousands” of varieties of kitchen or hunting knives with similar dimensions could have caused the wounds. Juarez confessed on the night of the homicide to stabbing Linares two or three times, first on State Street and again after chasing him down Carrillo Street to the parking lot where Linares died, though according to the officer who interrogated Juarez, the boy said he said he wasn’t sure if the knife connected the third time or just cut clothing.
Earlier Wednesday, Atkin’s co-counsel Jennifer Archer cross-examined a detective who interviewed a Saks Fifth Avenue shopper who said she was standing less than 10 feet from Linares when he collapsed. Archer sought to establish that the knifer the shopper described differed from Juarez in some particulars, including his dress and the fact that the described knifer north and not east to State Street, where Juarez was detained moments after the stabbing.