A former National City man tried to plead guilty Wednesday to his wife’s murder in 2010, but a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf by his public defender, whom he had just met.
“I’m guilty all right. I’m guilty!” said Armando Gabriel Perez, 39, at his first court appearance following his extradition from Mexico. Perez is charged with fatally stabbing Diana Gonzalez, 19, in a men’s restroom at City College near downtown San Diego on Oct. 12, 2010. He fled to Mexico but was arrested in Tijuana on Feb. 19 this year.
Perez didn’t seem to understand that guilty pleas can’t be entered at the first arraignment without talks with the prosecutor and defense attorney.
Many friends and family members of Gonzalez wore T-shirts with her picture. Her parents also attended the arraignment and almost every seat in the courtroom was filled.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a press conference afterward the blame for the murder is Armando Perez’s and not her office or the justice system. Dumanis said as a result of this murder and other domestic violence victims, her office formed a special response team.
The DA’s office partnered with other agencies to form the San Diego Domestic Violence High Risk Response Team to evaluate the risk factor for victims of domestic violence, she said.
Dumanis said she agreed not to seek the death penalty against Perez as part of the extradition treaty with Mexico.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O’Neill ordered Perez to remain in jail without bail. If he is convicted, Perez could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.