Hatchet Attack Victim Speaks Out

By Rory Devine and Eric S. Page
|  Tuesday, Dec 15, 2009  |  Updated 11:16 PM PDT
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Cops: Brutal Hatchet Attack Could Be Mistaken Identity

NBCSandiego.com

Anguiano the day after he testified at Rivera's preliminary hearing

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Hatchet Attack Victim Speaks Out

A man police believe was blinded in a case of mistaken identity talks about the attack.

Cops: Brutal Hatchet Attack Could Be Mistaken Identity

Four or five other people were inside the home during the attack, including the suspect's estranged wife and a 7-year-old child, according to police.
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A wheelchair-bound North County man left blind after an attack police believe was an apparent case of mistaken identity spoke on Tuesday about the brutal assault.

Chris Anguiano, who testified Monday about his horrifying experience, is now speaking out about the incident that changed his life forever.

"My life was real good," Anguiano said Tuesday. "I was working at Palomar Hospital as a nurse, hanging out with nurses. We would go to social parties, and I would be able to drive everywhere."

On July 9 at about 1:15 a.m., he and his girlfriend Samantha were sleeping in their bedroom in the 800 block of South Upas Street in Escondido when, according to investigators, they were attacked by Gamalier Reyes Rivera, 32, who was wielding a pair of hatchets.
     
Prosecutors said it may have been a case of mistaken identity and that Rivera may have been after his then-estranged wife and her boyfriend, who were sleeping in another room.

Now the 30-year-old Anguiano is legally blind. Someone has to be with him at all times, and he needs help walking and doing other mundane tasks-- even brushing his teeth.

On Tuesday, he showed the scars left from the hatchet attack. His collarbone was chopped, as were his cheek, hands,  elbows and back. He was in a coma for two months and had to learn to talk again.

"I was in a coma for two months," Anguiano said. "I suddenly woke up. No one thought I would wake up. They thought I would be a vegetable, but I woke up."

Anguiano, who could not recall much about the attack, had a terrible shock waiting for him.

"I just kept asking what happened, and no one would tell me anything," Anguiano said. "They just said it was a case of mistaken identity. I was mad and I broke out in tears, and I just kept screaming, but no voice was coming out, and I just kept crying."

Anguiano is understandably bitter.

"My life is over," Anguiano said on Tuesday. "I feel like I'm a 30-year-old and I got nothing going for me. I can't work; I can't stand up."

Anguiano had planned to go to school this fall to become a registered nurse, but he was unable to attend the classes. Since the attack, his girlfriend has left him.
    
Anguiano's civil attorney said a lawsuit is pending.
    
As for Rivera, Anguiano said he hopes that Rivera spends the rest of his life in jail.

Rivera is charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of torture and two counts of aggravated mayhem. On Monday, he was bound over for trial.

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