By Dana Littlefield | U-T San Diego
VISTA — An Oceanside man accused of slitting his estranged girlfriend’s throat and then hiding her body under a bed near their sleeping children was found guilty Monday of first-degree murder.
Arturo Salazar, 25, was charged in the death of Edith Andrea Garcia in June 2013. The couple were no longer dating but were staying together temporarily in a room Salazar rented.
Garcia, 21, had begun dating someone else, according to the testimony presented in trial.
“She had a new boyfriend,” said Deputy District Attorney Ryan Saunders during his closing argument last week in Vista Superior Court. “(The defendant) was mad and he was hurt.”
And so he killed her, the prosecutor said.
A woman living across the hall from Salazar at a house on Leeward Court was awakened June 12, 2013 at about 2 a.m. by the sound of a woman screaming, “Wait, wait!,” according to testimony in the case.
The woman called the landlord to investigate. When he knocked on the door to the converted garage where Salazar stayed with his two young children, the defendant told him through the door that his son had fallen off the bed.
Garcia’s family became concerned about her whereabouts, especially when Salazar called Garcia’s mother and asked whether she had seen Garcia. The family reported her missing on June 13, 2013.
Police went to Salazar’s home that day and found Garcia’s body under the bed. Her throat had been slashed twice with a six-inch kitchen knife. A rolled-up rug was found in the room, soaked with blood.
The prosecutor said Salazar eventually admitted to detectives that he became angry with Garcia because of her new boyfriend and cut her throat. He told investigators, “I wasn’t going to let her play me again.”
Saunders said it wasn’t the first time Salazar had been violent to Garcia. In October 2011, he grabbed her by her neck and threw he down on a bed, the prosecutor said.
Shortly before the stabbing, Salazar told the victim’s brother that he thought sometimes about ending her life. Although he didn’t take Salazar’s words too seriously, the brother warned Garcia anyway.
In the end, it did not matter.
“He said he was going to kill her, and less than a month later he killed her,” Saunders said.
Salazar’s lawyer, Lacey Martz, said at the beginning of the trial that there had been a “tangled and tumultuous” relationship between the defendant, Garcia and her lover. The attorney urged the jury to consider all the evidence.
Salazar testified that he was just trying to scare Garcia with the knife and that killing her was an accident.
Judge Robert Kearney scheduled a hearing for Aug. 26. Salazar will likely be sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.