LANCASTER – A murder trial began Monday for a 35-year-old man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death with a sword in front of their young children at a Lancaster apartment in 2008.
Jesus “Chuey” Canales is charged with murder in connection with the death of his girlfriend, Lucy Preciado, 26, and four counts of child abuse. The case includes a special allegation of personal use of a deadly and dangerous weapon, a sword.
“This case is about cold callous murder,” Deputy District Attorney Seth Carmack told the jury during his opening statement Monday morning.
Eyewitness testimony from two of the couple’s children, plus facts and evidence, would prove that Canales murdered Preciado after a verbal argument during the early morning hours of July 12, 2008, Carmack told the jury. A recorded interview conducted with Canales after his capture would be played during the trial, as well, Carmack said.
Jurors would also hear from a neighbor, a sheriff’s detective and a medical examiner during the trial, the prosecutor said.
The evidence would show that Canales and Preciado were arguing over money, and during the argument, Preciado grabbed a bat, but did not use it on Canales, according to Carmack.
The prosecutor said Canales could have left the apartment, but instead he grabbed a sword and killed his girlfriend. The evidence would show that Canales slashed his girlfriend’s face with the sword, splitting her lower lip down to her chin; then Canales used the sword to deliver two more blows, each of them fatal, Carmack told the jury.
“He rammed it through her upper left chest, and he actually rammed it so far that it came out her back,” Carmack said. Canales then removed the sword and stabbed it several inches deep into Preciado’s back, Carmack added.
After killing his girlfriend, Canales fled the apartment, the prosecutor said, leaving four young children, including an eight-month-old baby, to deal with their dying mother.
The prosecutor played the 9-1-1 call made by Preciado’s young daughter. The child could be heard telling the operator, “My dad just stabbed my mom.” Later in the call, the child cries and pleads, “Hurry up… I don’t want my mom to die!” (Listen to the 9-1-1 call here.) At least one member of the jury dabbed away tears as the call was played inside the courtroom Monday.
The prosecutor asked jurors to put aside their emotions, and to rely only on facts and evidence when finding Canales guilty of murdering Lucy Preciado and endangering their four children.
Canales’ defense attorney deferred his opening statement Monday morning.
Testimony began with Patrick Gunn, who lived in a neighboring apartment at the time of Preciado’s death.
Gunn testified that he was working at his computer during the early morning hours of July 12, 2008, when he heard “an ongoing shouting match” that appeared to be coming from the couple’s apartment.
Sometime after, Gunn said he observed a “seemingly agitated” Canales walking down the stairs toward the garage, and then saw Canales’ vehicle “hurriedly leaving” the apartment complex.
Gunn said he then heard a “large, loud piercing scream” that seemed to be coming from a child. Other tenants began coming out of their apartments, Gunn testified. He said he entered Preciado’s apartment to offer assistance, and a small “extremely distraught” girl pointed him toward a bedroom.
Inside the bedroom, Preciado was hunched over in a corner, rocking back and forth, Gunn said.
He said he asked other tenants to remove the children from the apartment, as they waited for help to arrive.
The murder trial continued Monday afternoon and is expected to continue for the rest of the week, with more witness testimony.
If convicted as charged, Canales faces a maximum state prison sentence of 30 years to life.
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