Friday, June 26, 2009

Stabbing suspect claims self-defense

Defendant charged with felony aggravated battery

Express Staff Writer

David Rojas-Peralta

A man arrested for allegedly stabbing an acquaintance earlier this week in Ketchum reportedly claimed self-defense when interviewed by police.

The suspect, who Blaine County court records name as David Rojas-Peralta, was nonetheless charged with felony aggravated battery, a crime punishable in Idaho by up to 15 years in prison. Ketchum police originally arrested Rojas-Peralta on a charge of attempted murder. The charge was changed prior to the defendant's initial court appearance late Tuesday afternoon in Blaine County Magistrate Court.

Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas explained Thursday that both attempted murder and aggravated battery carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, but that an attempted murder charge requires that the prosecution prove "malice aforethought."

"The fact that this case is not filed as an attempted murder does not deprecate the seriousness of the offense, nor lessen the state's resolve to seek appropriate punishment," Thomas said. "This is a serious crime of violence, no matter how it is characterized."

Thomas further said that the prosecutor's office intends to file a sentence enhancement charge for alleged "use of a deadly weapon in commission of a crime." The enhancement would double the maximum penalty from 15 to 30 years.

Rojas-Peralta, 33, is accused of stabbing 36-year-old Roger Mansecidor Rubin early Monday morning at the Ketchum Korral cabins on south Main Street.

A probable-cause affidavit filed in the case by Ketchum police officer Adam Johnson states that the stabbing occurred at cabin 37, which Rojas-Peralta shared with a man identified in court documents as Roy DeLa Cruz. Johnson wrote in the affidavit that investigation showed that Rojas-Peralta returned to the cabin around 1 a.m. and found Rubin sleeping on his bed.

Johnson wrote that an argument started. Differing versions of what happened next were given by Rubin and Rojas-Peralta.

Johnson wrote that Rubin told investigators that he got off the bed and apologized but that "David then went into the kitchen and grabbed a meat knife." Rojas-Peralta then allegedly slashed Rubin once on the right cheek and stabbed him twice in the back.

Rojas-Peralta however, told investigators that he didn't get the knife until "Roger hit him in the face and kicked him in the leg."

"David stated that he went into the living room with the knife and told Roger to knock it off or he was going to kill him," Johnson wrote. "David stated that Roy stepped in between him and Roger and tried to stop them from fighting. David stated that Roger continued to swing at him, so he reached over the back of Roy and stabbed Roger in the back."

Johnson reported that Rojas-Peralta told investigators that after the altercation he tried to help Rubin "by placing a towel over his wounds, trying to stop the bleeding."

Johnson wrote that DeLa Cruz told officers that he didn't actually witness the stabbing.

Someone, court records don't specify whom, took Rubin to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center, where he was treated and later released.

Rojas-Peralta was arrested without incident by Ketchum police around 11 a.m. later that morning.

In court Tuesday, Judge Jason Walker set bond at $100,000 and appointed Ketchum attorney Dan Dolan as public defender. Rojas-Peralta reported at the hearing that he is unemployed. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on July 7.

Court records state that the judge said during the hearing that based on the probable-cause affidavit "there may be some form of defense."

Interim Ketchum Police Chief Dave Kassner said earlier that he believes that both Rojas-Peralta and Rubin are Peruvian nationals.

Rojas-Peralta remained incarcerated Thursday in the Blaine County jail. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has filed an "immigration detainer" against Rojas-Peralta. The document states that Rojas-Peralta is being investigated as a possible illegal immigrant.

Terry Smith:

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