■ Chronicle News Staff
Accused murderer Alonso Rodriguez Jr., 19, pleaded not guilty last week in Banning Superior Court on charges of stabbing his stepfather to death.
Rodriguez appeared briefly in court with his attorney but is still being held on $1 million bail although the second person arrested with him has been released, police said.
Mario Delacruz, 20, may still be considered a co-conspirator sources said, although police are remaining mum on whether he will be formally charged. Sources close to the case speculated Delacruz may be considering turning state’s evidence in order to secure a reduced charge – or none at all.
Rodriguez and a friend were arrested in the brutal stabbing death of Luis Perez, a resident of the Desert Palms mobile home park in Hemet.
The night of May 13, Isabel Alvarado and husband Luis were driving back from Los Angeles when an argument erupted between the two. Sitting in the backseat of the vehicle was Isabel’s 11-year-old daughter. After a car ride marked by constant arguing, the two carried their disagreements all the way to their home in at Desert Palms, 1091 N. State St.
The fight eventually escalated to Luis punching Isabel in the face. Isabel’s daughter saw this and immediately texted her older brother, Alonso, Isabel’s son and Luis’ stepson. The daughter told Alonso that Isabel had been hit.
At some point, Isabel and Luis got out of the car and continued their argument into a parking lot and eventually into a nearby field. Alvarado told The Valley Chronicle that Luis had a history of abuse where he would start hitting and wouldn’t stop. Once Alonso was informed that his mother was in danger, he immediately came to her aid.
Alonso and friends showed up at some point and there was an altercation that Isabel claims she did not actually see happen since she had gone inside. She does say, however, that the attack was witnessed by another person. After the attack, Alvarado claims that the next thing she knew, Perez was stumbling backwards inside the home with a bloodied shirt. She says she assessed his injuries – she is a medical assistant trained in first aid – and tore open his shirt to see if there were any fatal wounds. Alvarado insisted that the only fatal wound she saw was on his wrist and that she immediately wrapped it to stop the bleeding.
Based on Alvarado’s story, once police arrived, Alonso and his friends had already fled the scene. Meanwhile, the police questioned then detained Alvarado and her children. Her youngest – ages 2 and 4 – were placed into custody. The 11, 9, and 7-year olds were detained at the scene.
Police and first responders did not allow Alvarado to ride with her husband in the ambulance and refused to let her go to the hospital, where he died before seeing her again. After being detained until 1 a.m, her other daughters were finally placed in the custody of Luis’ family while Alvarado was taken to Hemet Police headquarters where she was detained for two days, she says.
Rodriguez and Delacruz were picked up by police the next day in a dramatic stop that temporarily closed Florida Ave. Delacruz has since been released.
Alvarado claimed a third person has been detained by police in connection with the crime, but police have not confirmed either that there is a third suspect. Alvarado maintains that her son is not the one who killed her husband, insisting that “he didn’t do it.”
Alonso, however, was aware of Luis’ abuse towards his mother and had told him on at least one previous occasion to stop abusing her, says Alvarado. The two had gotten into a fight previously when Alonso was a minor. She said the police were called during that incident by her daughter, but they never showed up. She also informed us that her son, Alonso, whom she admits is in a gang, nevertheless has no criminal record and the only altercation he ever had with police was when he was in 12th grade.
Alvarado explained that Luis had a long rap sheet of domestic violence charges. She even told The Chronicle that Luis had threatened her life multiple times and that he was an alcoholic. He had been in and out of jail and was on probation at the time of his death.
Despite the abuse, Isabel and Luis had a strong connection. Unfortunately, their three-month marriage ended in a bloody scene of domestic violence that undoubtedly will affect both his and her families – and their children – for the rest of their lives.
“I loved Luis, but I can’t change what happened,” she said. “I have to think about the children now.”