FULLERTON, Calif. – A man is scheduled to face trial tomorrow for the stabbing-murder of his acquaintance after chasing and stalking him and fleeing to Mexico. Mario Alberto Rodriguez, 26, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a knife. If convicted, Rodriguez faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison. Opening statements are scheduled to begin tomorrow, July 21, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. in Department N-11, North Justice Center, Fullerton.
On March 9, 2013, Rodriguez is accused of seeing 26-year-old acquaintance Paul Anthony Garcia in front of the defendant's family's home in Santa Ana, and chasing him on foot. Rodriguez and two associates followed Garcia for a few blocks until he entered the El Chile Picante restaurant on South Main Street.
Rodriguez is accused of entering the restaurant and attempting to grab Garcia to lead him outside. Restaurant employees informed the defendant that the business had video surveillance and asked the defendant to leave the building. Rodriguez is accused of leaving the restaurant and waiting near the exit to further pursue Garcia.
The defendant is accused of chasing Garcia across the street to a parking area behind a business after the victim exited the restaurant. Rodriguez is accused of punching Garcia and stabbing the victim once in the chest. The victim ran across Main Street and collapsed on the sidewalk where he died as a result of the stab wound.
Rodriguez is accused of subsequently fleeing to Mexico. The defendant is accused of returning to California several days later and fleeing to Mexico again after the Santa Ana Police Department released the restaurant's surveillance footage to the public in an effort to identify the defendant.
On June 19, 2013, Rodriguez was arrested by the Michoacán State Police in La Estanzuela, Michoacán, Mexico. He was then extradited back to the United States to face trial. The Santa Ana Police Department worked with the U.S. Marshals Service to secure his extradition.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 13CF1954 / July 20, 2016