Convicted killer admits second killing, claims self-defense

Michael Leyva admits he killed Miguel Garcia in August 2018, but he denies doing it in a jealous rage. Says it was self-defense.

Friday, November 4, 2022
Convicted killer admits second killing, claims self-defense
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Surveillance video and a witness with changing stories are the main evidence in the murder trial against a Fresno man who's killed before.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Surveillance video and a witness with changing stories are the main evidence in the murder trial against a Fresno man who's killed before.

Michael Leyva's trial started Friday morning.

Leyva admits he killed Miguel Garcia in August 2018, but he denies doing it in a jealous rage. He says it was self-defense.

Miguel Garcia died because he talked to the wrong woman at the wrong time, according to prosecutors.

"Miguel Garcia spoke to Irene and made a suggestion that they go into the alley and stated 'Hey Mama, what you working with?'" said prosecutor Amy Cobb.

'Irene' is Irene Leyva, who at the time was the girlfriend of Michael Leyva.

Prosecutors say surveillance video shows Irene leaving a southeast Fresno phone store.

In her latest statement to investigators, Irene said Leyva found out Garcia was hitting on her, so he hopped out of his truck with a knife in his hand.

He stabbed Garcia once, directly in the heart, and ran away.

Leyva's defense attorney says her story is questionable.

"She's going to contend that this was a thing about a rage or jealousy, but that's not going to tell you anything about why this happened, really, because it's not going to match up with anything she said in her earlier statements," said defense attorney Doug Foster.

Prosecutors admit Irene Leyva has changed her story.

She previously told police she didn't see exactly what happened, but she knew Michael was scared when he came back to his truck.

Irene now says Michael gave her his bloody knife as they left and she dumped it somewhere else. Investigators confirmed someone found a knife in that spot four years ago.

Everyone agrees Garcia threw a punch before the stabbing.

He later pulled a knife and punctured two of Leyva's tires as the couple left.

But prosecutors say Leyva meant to kill him and not because he posed a threat.

"A measly punch thrown from what appeared to be an intoxicated man did not put him in a situation where he believed he needed to defend his life in that manner," Cobb said.

Leyva already has two strikes, including a manslaughter conviction in 1991, so he faces life in prison even if the jury finds he committed manslaughter instead of murder this time.

The trial is expected to last about a week.