Two gang members who prosecutors say chased down and stabbed a man to death at a Woodland trailer park last year were convicted of murder Wednesday in Yolo Superior Court.
Yolo County jurors found Alexis Ivan Velasquez, 19, guilty of first-degree murder and Justin Matthew Gonzalez, 23, guilty of second-degree murder along with gang-related charges in the fatal Aug. 30, 2016, stabbing of Ronald Antonio at Casa del Sol, a mobile home park on the city’s East Street. Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, who with deputy district attorney Michael Vroman, prosecuted the case, called the 41-year-old victim’s death “a tragedy – and terrifying.”
Antonio had just left a friend’s home at the park, Reisig said, when he saw a woman bleeding from what she said was a knife wound. Prosecutors said Antonio, who reportedly used his shirt to stanch the bleeding, was mistaken for the woman’s attacker and was fatally stabbed. “He was a good man – an artist, a dog lover. This man took his shirt off his own back and it ended up costing him his life,” Reisig said following the hearing.
Velasquez and Gonzalez both were prosecuted as “habitual criminals” and had ties to a Woodland street gang, Reisig said. Their prison records had earned the pair sentencing strikes even before Antonio’s fatal stabbing. Each now face life in prison at their sentencing, set for Jan. 26 before Yolo Superior Court Judge Dan Maguire.
But Gonzalez’s attorney, Keith Staten, plans to appeal saying Gonzalez did not participate in the knife attack. Staten blasted what he called a “sweet deal” between prosecutors and Ruby Aradoz, the woman who said she was slashed and who was later indicted in connection with the case and said her testimony on the stand contradicted statements she gave to a Yolo County Grand Jury panel. Charges were dropped in exchange for Aradoz’s testimony.
On the stand, Aradoz testified both men were armed with large kitchen knives when they cornered and set upon Antonio.
“It was a sweet deal – how could she not take it,” he said.
The pair were but two of four people facing charges in Antonio’s murder.
Malinda Joy Collins and Cynthia Maria Tello were also named in prosecutors’ criminal complaint accused of murder and of having ties to a criminal street gang. Collins and Tello are expected to face trial Jan. 18 in Woodland.