Jury Finds Salas-Rufino Guilty Of Second-Degree Murder In Stabbing Death

Friday, May 24, 2019
Zacarias "Carlos" Salas-Rufino
Zacarias "Carlos" Salas-Rufino

A Criminal Court jury on Friday found Zacarias "Carlos" Salas-Rufino guilty of second-degree murder as charged.

Judge Barry Steelman will set the sentence on July 25.

A city police officer testified on Wednesday that he found Yessica Ruiz covered with blood and her two children sobbing beside her on Sept. 26, 2016.

It was testified at an earlier hearing that Salas-Rufino had overheard Ms.

Ruiz telling another man she loved him. He said once that same man was leaving his house as he arrived home from his job as a painter.   

Officer Ballinger said, after arriving at a multi-family residence on Navajo Drive, "I found a female lying on the ground covered with blood. Two children were sitting near her crying and screaming."

He added, "There was so much blood that I couldn't tell where her injuries were. She was staring toward the sky and seemed to be trying to mumble something."

The officer said he then heard Salas-Rufino down the street screaming. He said the man came running "at full speed" toward him, and he pulled his gun and told him to get on the ground.

He said the man shouted, "Help me. Help me" and then "Yessica. Yessica."

Karen Brown, who lives at the same location, said she was dressing her special needs grandchild for school when "all of a sudden I heard screaming, yelling and arguing" coming from behind the house.

She told the jury, "It just kept going. At one point she was running back and forth like she was trying to get away from him."

Then she said she heard the couple out her bedroom window in another part of the house. She said, "It got louder. I'd never heard wailing, screaming and crying like that. It sounded like she was fighting for her life."

The witness said, "At some point, it went quiet." Ms. Brown, who was outside by now, said, "She came out from around the wall, walked a little ways, then slumped down. She didn't make it far. Then she rolled over with her leg up on the wall. That's when I saw the blood coming down her leg." She then called 911.

Ms. Brown said Ms. Ruiz "didn't ever get up again. At one point she looked up at me and said, 'Help me.' "

She said she took the children with her away from their dying mother. She said, "They were very upset. I was having a hard time consoling them."

Ms. Brown said prior to the incident that the couple came up to their apartment. She said she could tell that Ms. Ruiz was upset and they had been arguing. Salas-Rufino came up after her. She said her husband then "got loud with them. He said they should go back to their apartment and settle their issues."

Tolbert Dye, another resident there, said Salas-Rufino knocked on his door around 6 a.m. that morning, wanting to come in and sit on the couch. But he said he told him he could not come in, saying he had his seven chihuahuas out. He said Salas-Rufino then walked back down the stairs. He said he appeared normal.

The witness said he went back to bed, then heard a loud boom. He said he looked out and saw Ms. Ruiz "fighting for her life." 

After it was over, he said he heard Salas-Rufino hollering for help and calling for Yessica.

He said Ms. Ruiz worked at a bar as an entertainer. "She would make people laugh."

Mr. Dye said the night before the incident that they came home together, then she got dressed up and drove off in her white Nissan.

The medical examiner said the victim was stabbed 25 times.

At the prior hearing, an investigator said the defendant told him he and his wife were drinking at a club where she worked, then bought more beer while on the way home. He said they were also on meth and cocaine.

The defendant said he overheard the conversation with the other man when he got up to go to the bathroom. He said his wife was in the living room.

He said Salas-Rufino said he got a knife out of the kitchen "to scare her." Then, he said, she refused to give him her cell phone and they struggled over it.

 

 



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