A man who stabbed his pregnant girlfriend did not willfully commit the crime, his defense attorney argues, because he was in an alcohol-induced blackout at the time.
But, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, the defendant had stabbed or slashed the same woman with a knife or screwdriver on five previous occasions.
Brian Michael Rodriguez, 26, of Lompoc, faces more than two dozen felony charges, including attempted murder, for an incident that allegedly occurred in Cambria last summer. Attorneys are expected to give opening statements in his trial Monday.
According to court records, the following occurred in July 2014:
Rodriguez drank beer throughout the evening as he and his girlfriend visited friends. During the night, he allegedly told his girlfriend he brought her to Cambria because “it’s so lonely out here, you could kill someone and toss them over the side of the road.”
After barging in on his girlfriend in a restroom, the defendant tried to urinate on her. When the girlfriend stopped him, forcing him to urinate on himself, he became angry, punched her on the head and face and called her a whore. The incident stopped when the victim’s daughter from another relationship brought the couple’s 7-month-old baby.
But shortly afterward, Rodriguez came at the victim with a knife, saying, “I’m going to stab you and kill you,” then cut her multiple times on the arm and once in the back.
Rodriguez has pleaded not guilty.
In motions filed by his attorney, Ray Allen, the defense notes that it retained Dr. David Smith, a known expert on alcohol-induced blackouts.
“He believes that the defendant’s irrational fears of infidelity and abandonment coupled with alcohol causes a discharge of rage,” Allen wrote.
That condition, Allen argued, led his experts to believe Rodriguez could not have formed the intent or mental state necessary to convict on the charges, which also include assault with a deadly weapon, corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, mayhem and torture.
“It is my opinion that individuals in a blackout, particularly in a fugue state, lack the mental capacity to perform with intent,” Smith wrote in a report, “as intent is a function of the pre-frontal cortex, which is severely compromised in this state.”
The defense also retained Carolyn Murphy, a forensic psychologist, who agreed that Rodriguez was in a blackout during the incident. She also concluded he has a personality disorder and rage issues and often drinks to excess.
The prosecution contends the experts can’t determine what the defendant’s intent was at the time of the incident because they examined him months later.
According to a prosecution motion, filed by deputy district attorney Danielle Wheeler, Rodriguez had stabbed the girlfriend and a former wife on several previous occasions. The girlfriend never sought treatment for her injuries, which she treated with rum-soaked bandages, according to the motion.
In July 2008, the motion noted, Rodriguez pleaded to a felony after stabbing his ex-wife in the forearm. The victim in that case said she was helping Rodriguez’s mother, who was in a wheelchair, into a car, when the defendant accused his wife of turning his mother against him. He stabbed his wife with their children nearby.
The prosecution contends that those priors show motive and prove the recent stabbing was not a mistake.