Gruesome images of a young mother’s body left mutilated in a pool of blood at a local community college campus were shown in a San Diego courtroom as the man accused of the brutal crime repeatedly said he doesn’t remember what happened.
Friday, Armando Perez was found guilty of first-degree murder of using a knife and lying in wait. He will be sentenced on Nov. 16.
Diana Gonzalez, 19, was killed inside a restroom on the San Diego City College campus on October 12, 2010. She was strangled and stabbed in her neck, her chest, her face and her privates before the word “Bitch” was carved into her back.
Perez testified he doesn’t remember what happened the night his estranged wife was killed.
“It was me but I just became a monster. I don’t know what happened,” Perez said from the stand.
This is the second trial for Perez. He entered a guilty plea in 2014 but an appeals court ruled he did so without legal representation.
His life sentence was overturned and, Perez was retried for first-degree murder charges.
He believes he killed his wife in the heat of passion and should be charged with manslaughter.
Perez spoke with NBC 7 from his jail cell after he was captured more than a year after the killing. At that time, he said he just snapped and “lost it.”
His testimony on Thursday was similar when he told prosecutors that he doesn’t remember the attack.
“It was me but I don’t remember doing none of that stuff at the time,” Perez said.
Perez testified after the killing, he washed his hands, took the knife with him and fled to Mexico. There, he went into hiding for more than a year before he was captured and brought back to U.S. to face criminal charges.
Under questioning by the defense, Perez testified that Gonzalez called him "stupid" and threatened to keep his daughter from him when they argued before the stabbing.
Prosecutors say Perez carefully planned the murder and waited until Gonzalez entered the bathroom alone before he attacked her.
Gonzalez had given birth to the couple’s baby girl a few months before her death and was taking college classes to become a nurse.
Her sister told NBC 7 that Gonzalez had asked authorities for help just weeks before her death. She had filed a temporary restraining order against Perez.
San Diego police detectives investigated allegations that Perez had held Gonzalez in a motel room for two days. Perez was booked into the county jail but the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and declined to issue charges at the time.