A man accused of stabbing his pregnant girlfriend lacked impulse control because of alcohol consumption and a borderline personality disorder, an expert defense witness testified Wednesday.
But a prosecutor who questioned the defendant suggested Brian Rodriguez made conscious choices to stab the victim on six different occasions, then pretended to forget what he’d done.
Rodriguez, 26, of Lompoc faces several felonies, including attempted murder, in the alleged stabbing in Cambria last summer.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Rodriguez and his girlfriend, pregnant with his child, were visiting friends in Cambria in July when he stabbed or slashed her multiple times.
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On the stand this week, Rodriguez said he drank up to 18 beers that night. But the last thing he remembers afterward, he testified, is falling asleep and then waking up to get arrested.
He said he does not remember stabbing anyone.
“I don’t remember anything at all,” said Rodriguez, who first took the stand Tuesday and continued testifying Wednesday.
Defense attorney Raymond Allen has suggested that Rodriguez has borderline personality disorder and blacks out from alcohol consumption. Because he had blacked out in Cambria, Allen argues, the prosecution cannot show Rodriguez had intent to commit the crimes.
Rodriguez testified that he began drinking at the age of 10. Carolyn Murphy, a forensic psychologist, said Rodriguez has borderline personality disorder, which causes him to lash out when he feels wronged or rejected, even if that feeling is not warranted.
Rodriguez allegedly believed his girlfriend was being unfaithful.
“Individuals with borderline personality disorder are more likely to overreact to emotional stress,” Murphy said.
People with the disorder, Murphy said, are known for sadistic actions, which they tend to minimize.
Those symptoms, she said, can be magnified by alcohol use. And after 18 beers, she said, a person with borderline personality disorder would have lacked impulse control.
But Deputy District Attorney Greg Devitt honed in on several alleged stabbing incidents in the past, including one in 2014. During that incident, Rodriguez allegedly stabbed his girlfriend in the leg while he was driving and she was in the backseat with her children.
According to a court motion, Rodriguez believed the victim had been flirting with her uncles.
Rodriguez responded to a series of questions from the prosecutor on Wednesday.
“Did you feel better after you stabbed her?” Devitt asked Rodriguez.
“Why’d you stab her?”
“I don’t know.”
“You did it on purpose, didn’t you?”
“Not on purpose.”
Rodriguez said he could only remember stabbing the girlfriend that one time.
Devitt noted that he could remember the day he began dating her, the day he moved in with her and the number of beers he had during the alleged Cambria incident.
“I don’t have trouble with numbers,” he testified.
“You just have trouble (remembering) when people accuse you of stabbing them,” Devitt said.
Rodriguez also sent the girlfriend several texts, including one that suggested he was going to “make sure you end up in a wheelchair for life” and another that read, “Your other leg is gonna get it.”
“That was a joke,” Rodriguez said of the texts, later adding, “That’s how we communicate.”
Earlier in the trial, Devitt asked the victim, referred to as Vanessa Doe, whether she kept track of how often Rodriguez threatened her.
“If I did, I would lose count,” she said. “Everything that ever happened stayed between me and him. I didn’t want him to get in trouble … I thought he could change. I guess that’s what happens to gullible people.”
Tuesday, a former wife testified that Rodriguez had stabbed her in the arm in 2011. Prior to the stabbing, she testified, he had accused her of being unfaithful.