Long trail of evidence leads to Fresno murder suspect

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022
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A long trail of evidence led police to the Fresno man who's now accused of committing murder in a fit of jealous rage.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A long trail of evidence led police to the Fresno man who's now accused of committing murder in a fit of jealous rage.

Michael Leyva is on trial for the second time for killing someone.

Miguel Garcia's entire encounter with Leyva lasted just a matter of seconds in August 2018.

Prosecutors say Garcia made some lewd comments to Leyva's girlfriend outside of a southeast Fresno strip mall and when Leyva found out, he jumped out of his Ford F150 with a knife in his hand.

Garcia threw an errant punch before Leyva killed him with a single blow of his knife.

"The cause of death was penetration of the heart due to a stab wound to the chest," said Dr. Michael Chambliss, a pathologist with the Fresno County Coroner's Office.

Police found video evidence leading them to Leyva, so they served a search warrant at his home, looking for the murder weapon, the pickup, and other evidence.

"They went in through a side door and opened the garage door, where I was able to observe a white Ford F150," said Fresno police detective Daniel Laband.

The truck linked Leyva to Garcia's death, so after searching Leyva's home, investigators turned their attention to arresting him.

They leaned on his girlfriend, Irene, to find him.

"My understanding was that he wanted to turn himself in, and she directed us to a Motel 6 at Shaw and 99," said Fresno police officer Rick Harrell.

Police arrested Leyva without any problems, but the weapon proved more elusive.

During that 2018 search at his home, officers collected some knives and an empty package for a knife.

Four years later, not long before her now-husband's trial, Irene Leyva told investigators Michael gave her the knife immediately after the attack and she dumped it.

Officers confirmed someone found it in 2018 and threw it away.

Investigators bought an identical knife and coroners say it could've dealt the deadly blow to Garcia.

Leyva says he stabbed Garcia in self-defense.

He has two prior felony strikes, including a manslaughter in 1991, so if he's convicted, he faces life in prison.

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