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O.C. man convicted of murder in dispute over who was a better singer

June 23, 2010 |  5:23 pm
An Orange County man was convicted Wednesday of killing an acquaintance with a knife after an argument over who was a better singer, authorities said.

Julian Sermano, 58, of San Juan Capistrano was found guilty of one count of second-degree murder, one count of aggravated assault and a sentencing enhancement for use of a deadly weapon, the Orange County district attorney's office said.

The slaying occurred June 6, 2007, at a San Capistrano Park, where Sermano and two other men were drinking and singing. Prosecutors said Sermano became angry with one of the men, Blas Gutierrez, 39.

Gutierrez had complained about Sermano's singing and boasted that he was a better singer, according to prosecutors, who said the two began to fight.

The third man, Maurico Molina, 34, also of San Juan Capistrano, intervened by pulling out a pocket knife and stabbing Gutierrez twice. Molina pleaded guilty to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter in September 2009 and was sentenced in May to 11 years in state prison. He testified at Sermano's trial.

During the fight, Sermano took out a knife and tried to stab Gutierrez but wounded Molina instead, according to prosecutors. As Molina fell to the ground and tried to call 911, Sermano was accused of chasing Gutierrez through the park and repeatedly stabbing the victim.

Sermano is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 27 at the Santa Ana courthouse. He faces up to 16 years to life in state prison.

-- Robert J. Lopez