New video, wife's testimony aim to convict Fresno man in his second killing

Corin Hoggard Image
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
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Prosecutors believe Irene Leyva's testimony completes the puzzle pointing to a murder conviction against Michael Leyva.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The murder trial against a man who's killed more than once hinges on testimony from a witness who was his girlfriend then his wife and now his chief accuser.

Prosecutors believe Irene Leyva's testimony completes the puzzle pointing to a murder conviction against Michael Leyva.

But the defense points out she told a different story for most of the last four years.

Michael Leyva is a killer. Nobody disputes that. He has a manslaughter conviction from 1991 and he killed Miguel Garcia in 2018.

Irene Leyva says Michael was also a controlling and jealous boyfriend and husband.

But she saw a different set of emotions after he stabbed Garcia.

"Did Michael look scared when he got back to the car on August 19, 2018?" asked defense attorney Doug Foster.

"Yes, he did," Irene Leyva said.

"Was he shaking when he dropped the keys on August 19, 2018?" Foster asked.

"Yes, he was," Irene confirmed.

But she says Michael's fear didn't seem to stem from the poorly aimed punch Garcia threw at him.

She says he had confronted Garcia for making sexual comments to her as she left a southeast Fresno strip mall.

Irene says Michael already had a knife in his hand when he got out of his pickup truck and confronted Garcia.

But he dumped it on her as soon as he came back and revealed his biggest concern.

"He handed me the knife and he was like 'I'm going to go to prison for a long time,'" Irene said. "He was like 'I'm going to need you to check the knife.'"

Irene says she had closed her eyes momentarily and didn't see the stabbing.

She did see Garcia pull a switchblade afterwards, which he used to puncture a couple of the pickup's tires.

She says she disposed of the knife while the tires got fixed. A homeowner confirmed he found the knife in 2018, but threw it away.

Irene says Michael asked her to help cover up what he did, so she asked him to describe how he killed Garcia.

"And he said he did a prison stab," she said. "And I said 'what do you mean a prison stab?' And he said 'a prison stab.' He's like 'You hit them hard, like in the arteries.'"

Closing arguments in the case could happen as soon as tomorrow.

Leyva faces life in prison if he convicted - even on the lesser charge of manslaughter - because he already had two strikes on his record.