A potentially deadly confrontation between a Pacoima man and family members of the woman he was “obsessed with” was described in harrowing detail in the San Fernando Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Jorge Gomez, 23, is accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend’s Catherine’s 11-month-old daughter and two of her other relatives — Gisela, her mother, and Rosa, her aunt — in Panorama City, then leading police on a chase that ended with a four-hour standoff in Glendale.
Neither Catherine, Gisela nor Rosa were identified in court by their last names.
The defendant is facing attempted murder charges and one count each of first-degree residential burglary, fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle while driving recklessly and resisting an executive officer, along with a misdemeanor count of hit-and-run driving resulting in property damage.
The criminal complaint includes an allegation that Gomez used a butcher knife and a steak knife in the attacks on Catherine’s family members.
If convicted, Gomez could receive a maximum life prison sentence.
The attack happened on Dec. 18, 2016 in the 8800 block of Tobias Avenue, according to the Los Angeles police.
Under direct questioning by prosecutor Ani Bailey of the Los Angeles county District Attorney’s Office, Rosa — with the aide of an interpreter —described a confrontation she said she had with Gomez as the eight-man, four-woman jury listened intently, and the defendant sat quietly and impassively in the Superior Court of Judge Hilleri G. Merritt.
Rosa said she, Gisela and two children (one of them Catherine’s then 11-month-old daughter) were inside their apartment when a man Gisela identified as Gomez knocked on the door, wanting to speak to Catherine. The two had started dating in December of 2015, but an argument in October of 2016 that led to a physical confrontation had Catherine seeking and receiving a restraining order against Gomez that had gone into effect in December of 2016.
Rosa said she did not want Gomez to enter the apartment but relented when Gisela said okay. “I told him he could come in but after five minutes he had to leave or I’d call the police,” Rosa said
She said Catherine was not home — she had spent the night at her father’s residence — but Gomez did not believe them. “‘Don’t lie’ he said,” Rosa said, adding that Gomez said he was “in love with her” and “obsessed” with her.
Rosa said Gomez and Gisela began arguing. She said she told him to leave after the five minutes, and went into the small dining room to retrieve her cellphone from her purse and call the police. But Gomez knocked the phone out of her hand, she said and starting say “ugly” things, that “he would kill all of us and Catherine would regret it, that he would leave a memory that Catherine would never forget.”
She said she saw Gomez pull out something from his waist, first thinking it might be a gun. “Everything happened so fast, it was so confusing.” She realized it was a knife, Rosa said, and she believed Gomez was going to attack one of the children.
As she brought up her left arm to protect the child, Rosa said Gomez stabbed her in her left arm. She was also stabbed in the chest, the left side of her body and the left side of her head. Rosa also testified the defendant kicked her “more than once” after she fell to the ground. In addition to the stab wounds, Rosa sustained small bone fractures in her left cheek, jaw, and the orbital wall near her left eye.
Photos displayed in court by the prosecution showed Rosa with wounds that had been either stitched or stapled, as well as bruising on her arms, lower back and buttocks. It was determined that the facial fractures could heal without surgery
“I felt I could not go on any longer. I felt I had no strength,” Rosa said, her voice often quivering as she choked back tears. “I felt he was going to kill me.”
Rosa said she heard Gisela — who had been sitting Catherine’s baby before the attack — start screaming, and Gomez left her presumably to go after Gisela. She managed to pull herself up and remove the older child from the front room, trying to hide her in Catherine’s bedroom. She and the older child stayed inside the apartment until police came.
All injured parties were eventually taken to the Dignity Health Northridge Hospital and Medical Center. Dr. Uthaiah Kokkalera, a trauma surgeon, testified he treated both Rosa and Gisela for stab wounds. The baby was treated by a children’s pediatrician.
Rosa would be hospitalized for three days. She said she remained in pain for several weeks. “I couldn’t eat. I had pain when I sat, when I was lying down. I had to sleep sitting up. I had [trouble breathing].
“Besides the pain I was very scared by noises. I ‘saw’ Jorge everywhere.”
Defense attorney Gary Katz, in his cross examination, pressed Rosa on details of the confrontation, but the witness held firm in her account, saying “(Gomez) was furious, he tried to hurt me.”
The trial continued on Wednesday, with Catherine scheduled to give testimony.