Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Attempted murder charges filed in double stabbing

Hailey woman is in critical condition

Express Staff Writer

Cesar Rojas-Briceno

Passions sparked by a love triangle may have contributed Sunday to a brutal double stabbing at the Snow Mountain Apartments in Hailey.

Cesar Rojas-Briceno, 21, of Jerome, is in Blaine County Jail charged with two counts of second-degree attempted murder for allegedly knifing his estranged wife, Shery Livia, and her boyfriend, Nestor Quiñones. The victims' multiple wounds included slashes across their abdomens that resulted in their near disembowelment.

Rojas is also charged with one count of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening Livia's cousin, Eric Cueva, 26, as he walked up to the apartment immediately after the attacks.

Livia, 25, was reported in serious condition Tuesday at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. Quiñones, 27, was reported in stable condition at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

Hailey Police Lt. Jeff Gunter said his office received a 911 call on the incident at 8:05 p.m. Sunday. Gunter said that according to witnesses, Rojas was visiting Livia at her apartment on Woodside B oulevard when the two got into an argument. He said Rojas began to punch Livia and Quiñones intervened. Rojas then allegedly went into the kitchen, came back with a knife and began to stab Quiñones in the abdomen, arm and leg.

Gunter said Rojas then stabbed Livia five times in the chest, abdomen and leg.

He said Quiñones left the apartment and was spotted by a neighbor who took him to St. Luke's.

He said that when Cueva, a nearby resident in Woodside, appeared and confronted Rojas about the disturbance as he was leaving the apartment, Rojas brandished the knife and asked, "Do you want some of this too?"

Gunter said Rojas fled the scene in a 2000 Dodge Durango, taking the former couple's 3-year-old daughter with him.

Gunter said Livia was still at the apartment when police arrived. He said she passed out shortly after their arrival and was transported by ambulance to St. Luke's. She was transferred by helicopter to St. Alphonsus on Monday afternoon.

Jerome County Sheriff's Department Capt. Chuck Dudley said deputies with his department arrested Rojas at his father's house at 407 Bob Barton Road in Jerome at about 11 p.m. Sunday. He was transported to Blaine County Jail.

Gunter said the daughter was recovered unharmed.

During a first appearance in the Magistrate Division of 5th District Court in Hailey on Monday, Rojas listened quietly, most of the time with his head bowed, as instructions from Judge Ted Israel were translated into Spanish. Israel set a bond of $250,000, the amount requested by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Warren Christiansen.

"I think Mr. Rojas represents a continued threat to the victims," Christiansen said.

He also added that charges against Rojas could be amended to murder if either of the victims dies.

Christiansen told the court that his office had not yet obtained information from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service as to Rojas' status in the United States.

Israel authorized the appointment of a public defender to the case. Rojas faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.

A preliminary hearing for Rojas is scheduled for Sept. 28, at which time the state will be required to show sufficient evidence to bind him over to District Court for trial.

Gunter said Hailey police planned to search Rojas' car, which was still in Jerome, yesterday afternoon, in the hope of locating the knife used in the attacks. He said the Idaho State Police are collecting evidence from Livia's apartment, including fingerprints and items that may yield DNA evidence.

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