Two convicted in murder of Fresno sex offender

FRESNO, Calif.

A jury on Friday found Patricia Perez and David Barrera guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Lawrence Ballesteros.

Family members of the suspects and the victim sobbed in court as the verdicts were read. Outside the courtroom, Gerald Schwab the attorney for David Barrera, said his client should not have been convicted of the killing.

"Obviously we are very disappointed. We felt this was an accessory after the fact case as far as David Barrera went. Unfortunately the jurors felt differently."

There was evidence Barrera transported Ballesteros' body after he'd been stabbed to death. But prosecutor Jeff Dupras said there's no question people were involved in the killing.

"The evidence was pretty clear suggesting that one person put a ligature around his neck while the other person stabbed him."

And despite the conviction, Mark Siegel, the attorney for Patricia Perez, maintained she was not the killer.

"No she had no motive to kill him; she had no motive whatsoever. He was her friend and certainly no motive to do to this man what was done to him, 58 stab wounds."

Lawrence Ballesteros rented a garage from Patricia Perez and her female roommate. They had two teenage children living with them. They told Ballesteros to move out after he was exposed as a registered sex offender during a televised law enforcement operation. He returned to the garage two weeks later, and the prosecutor convinced the jury that after a night of drinking Perez and her friend David Barrera killed Ballesteros. His body was found dumped alongside the road about a mile from their home.

"Very pleased with the verdict, very happy for the victim's family," Dupras said.

Both Barrera and Perez have previous criminal records. They could face sentences of 25 years to life in prison. They will be sentenced next month.

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