Third Circuit Judge Floyd H. Gowans has ordered Russell Michael Ontiveros bound over to district court on a charge of second-degree murder.
Gowans rejected a defense claim that prosecutors had not shown the Dec. 27 stabbing death of Jesse Roybal involved depraved indifference to human life.Ontiveros will be arraigned before 3rd District Court Judge Dennis Frederick, Feb. 4, 9 a.m.
Ontiveros, 36, is accused of stabbing Roybal during an altercation over the use of a phone by Ontiveros' stepson at Roybal's apartment. An autopsy report said Roybal, 31, died of heart failure caused by hemorrhaging around the heart triggered by a 3-inch deep stab wound. The report said Roybal was also stabbed once on the forearm and that he had a blood-alcohol content of .23 when he died.
During a four-hour preliminary hearing, witnesses testified that Ontiveros and Roybal stepped outside Roybal's apartment about 10 p.m. on Dec. 27 in a fighting mood.
The decision to fight apparently followed Roybal's verbal abuse of Ontiveros' stepson, Timmothy Sandoval, who had been using the telephone at Roybal's suggestion.
Roybal, Ontiveros, Sandoval and their girlfriends had gone to the Roybal apartment to talk and drink. During the evening, Roybal left to take a friend home, returning about 40 minutes later. During that time, Sandoval had been using the telephone. Roybal was upset, saying his brother had been trying to call the apartment without success.
Prior to the confrontation over the phone, witnesses said there had been no ill feelings among the couples.
Sandoval testified that he fled the apartment out of fear because of Roybal's belligerence and name calling. Those remaining said Roybal then began arguing with Ontiveros with the two men agreeing to step outside to settle their differences.
Sandoval's girlfriend, Tamara Quintana, testified that she saw Ontiveros take a knife from a kitchen drawer while Roybal was in a back room prior to the men going outside. She said she did not see whether Ontiveros took the knife outside with him, however.
In rejecting the defense motion to reduce the charge to manslaughter, Gowans said testimony indicating Ontiveros armed himself prior to going outside and that he apparently waited some time into the fight before making use of the weapon created sufficient cause to refer the matter for trial on the original charge. Second-degree murder is a first-degree felony and carries a possible sentence of 15 years to life in prison.