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Whittier man guilty of murder in girlfriend's 2001 stabbing death

August 1, 2011 |  2:21 pm

Photo: Ruben Retana Perez. Credit: Orange County District Attorney's office. A Whittier man was convicted of murder Monday for stabbing his girlfriend to death and slitting her throat as he drove her to her job as a newspaper carrier in Orange County more than 10 years ago, prosecutors reported.

Ruben Retana Perez, 33, fled California after the killing and lived under aliases in Mexico and Louisiana before he was unmasked three years ago through a drunk-driving arrest in Arkansas.

He faces a maximum term of 26 years to life in state prison at a Sept. 16 sentencing hearing.

Perez and his victim, Rocio Leon, 29, had a tumultuous five-year relationship. After the birth of their son in 1999, Perez began abusing Leon and her child from another relationship, prosecutors said.

In the early morning hours of April 18, 2001, Perez was driving Leon to work when he stopped and got out of the car. Prosecutors said he sliced Leon across the neck with a kitchen knife and stabbed her twice in the chest before removing her from the car, getting back behind the wheel and running over her lifeless body.

Perez later requested a $1,000 pay advance and disappeared, prosecutors added.

The case was investigated by Garden Grove police and prosecuted by Senior Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Cameron Talley. Orange County Superor Court Judge Gary Paer in Santa Ana presided over the jury trial.

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-- Gale Holland

Photo: Ruben Retana Perez. Credit: Orange County District Attorney's office.

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