Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN CONVICTED OF MURDERING EX-GIRLFRIEND BY STABBING HER AND SLITTING HER THROAT
SANTA ANA – A man was convicted today of murdering his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his son, by stabbing her on her way to work. Ruben Retana Perez, 33, Whittier, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. He now faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison at his sentencing Sept. 16, 2011 in Department C-37, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Beginning in 1996, Perez had an on and off 5-year romantic relationship with 29-year-old Rocio Leon. Perez and Leon had a baby boy in 1999. Following their son’s birth, Perez became abusive toward Leon and her child from a previous relationship.
At approximately 3:30 a.m. on April 18, 2001, Perez got in Leon’s truck and drove with the victim to take her to work at an Orange County Register newspaper distribution center in Garden Grove. While driving to Leon’s work, Perez got out of the car and murdered Leon by slitting the victim’s throat using a kitchen knife and stabbing her two times in the chest. The defendant got back into the car and ran over Leon’s body before fleeing the scene.
Later that morning, Perez went to his work and requested a $1,000 cash pay advance. Perez never returned to work and abandoned the victim’s car in Stanton before fleeing the state. After further investigation linking Perez to the murder, a warrant was issued for his arrest, Dec. 17, 2002.
Approximately five years later, on July 19, 2008, Perez was arrested by police in Arkansas under the alias of Yovani Cortez for driving under the influence of alcohol. Arkansas authorities learned of the defendant’s true identity and the Orange County warrant for Leon’s murder. In September 2008, Perez was extradited back to Orange County to face the murder charges.
The Garden Grove Police Department investigated the case. Senior Deputy District Attorney Cameron Talley of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.