Long Beach man killed child to cover up sex abuse, DA alleges
A Long Beach man is facing capital murder and molestation charges as authorities allege that he stabbed to death his 9-year-old stepdaughter to cover up months of sexual abuse.
Jacinto Zuniga Trujillo, 31, is alleged to have stabbed the girl -- identified in court papers as Xiomara J. -- because he feared she might reveal that he been sexually abusing her since November, prosecutors alleged.
The District Attorney's Office filed a special circumstances murder charge, which would allow it to seek the death penalty in the case.
The girl's lifeless body was found in the parking lot of the Los Altos United Methodist Church on Saturday at about 11 a.m. Trujillo was found a short distance from the girl's body, suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds. Investigators say he attempted to commit suicide.
He was taken to a Long Beach hospital for treatment and released the next day. Authorities immediately took him into custody on suspicion of murder. Trujillo has yet to enter a plea in the case but made a brief appearance in Long Beach Superior Court earlier this week.
Trujillo is accused of the special circumstance allegation that the victim "was killed because she was a witness to a crime," specifically child molestation.
He also charged with five counts of oral copulation and sexual penetration with a child under the age of 10 involving the victim.
The District Attorney’s Office will not make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty against Trujillo until the case moves closer to trial.
Authorities found letters written in blood next to the girl's body in a lot at the corner of Woodruff Avenue and Willow Street. The writing was on the side of what appeared to be a gray container that authorities are considering evidence in the case. No other details about the letters immediately were available.
-- Richard Winton