|For Immediate Release
Case # 09NF0461
August 15, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
CONVICTED GANG MEMBER FOUND LEGALLY SANE FOR STABBING-MURDER OF FORMER GIRLFRIEND IN FRONT OF THEIR TWO CHILDREN
SANTA ANA – A gang member was found by a jury today to have been legally sane when he murdered the mother of his two young children by stabbing her 20 times. Miguel Alexander Vargas, 28, Placentia, was found guilty by the same jury Aug. 13, 2012, of one felony count of first degree murder and one felony count of carjacking. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison at his sentencing Aug. 31, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
As Vargas entered pleas of “not guilty” and “not guilty by reason of insanity,” the trial was held in two phases. The first phase was the guilt phase, during which jurors heard evidence about the crime and the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of that crime. In the second phase, the sanity phase, the same jury considered evidence to determine if the defendant was legally sane at the time of the crime; Vargas was found to be sane. When a defendant pleads “not guilty by reason of insanity,” the burden is on the defense to prove that the defendant was more likely than not legally insane when he committed the crime. To be considered legally insane, the defense must prove that the defendant had a mental disease or defect when he committed the crime and that this defect kept the defendant from understanding the nature of his act or from understanding that his act was morally or legally wrong.
Vargas is a documented gang member and was deemed an active gang member who was being monitored by the TARGET Unit prior to the incident. TARGET teams up police officers, probation officers, prosecutors, and Orange County District Attorney Investigators in police departments throughout the County to focus on gang leaders and the most violent, repeat criminal street gang offenders. TARGET successfully reduces gang crime by incapacitating the most active, hardcore gang offenders and preventing them from committing further violent acts in the community.
Between Feb. 4, 2009 and Feb. 5, 2009, Vargas repeatedly called his former girlfriend Angelina Alvarado, a week after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. Alvarado was the mother of their two children, who were then 4 and 6 years old.
At approximately 9:50 p.m. on Feb. 5, 2009, a friend drove Vargas to Alvarado’s home. While his friend was waiting in the car, Vargas entered Alvarado’s bedroom, where she and their two children were sleeping. Vargas grabbed the victim, threw her on the ground, dragged her into the living room, and punched her repeatedly with his fists. Vargas kneeled over the victim, who was lying face down, pulled out a switchblade knife, and stabbed her 20 times in the back of her head, neck and back, while their two children watched. The victim’s father, who had been in the backyard, heard her screaming, grabbed a baseball bat, and ran inside to save her.
Vargas ran out of the house and got back into the front passenger seat of his friend’s car and instructed him to drive away. Shortly after, Vargas ordered his friend to stop the car and forced him out before driving away. The defendant fled the scene and stayed in hiding in Tijuana, Mexico until his arrest.