Jurors deciding Fresno torture and murder case

Thursday, October 15, 2015
Jurors deciding Fresno torture and murder case
EMBED <>More Videos

Justice is near in the case of a deadly attack in a Fresno house wallpapered with drugs and violent crime.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Justice is near in the case of a deadly attack in a Fresno house wallpapered with drugs and violent crime.

"22 times," prosecutor Gabriel Brickey told the jury hearing evidence in the death of Oscar Seja. "22 separate times he was stabbed." That jury is now deciding whether the people accused of ruling the house are guilty of murder and torture.

Survival came at the cost of the burns she covered in bandages when she talked to Action News. It cost her sense of taste, and permanent hearing loss. But the woman who says Margaret Alaniz tortured her by pouring something like acid on her did survive. Oscar Seja did not.

Prosecutors say Seja was supposed to guard the torture victim we're not identifying. But even that cost her. They say he raped her, driving Alaniz to stab him 22 times, puncturing both lungs as he begged for his own survival. "Don't forget he was dragged into the back room pleading for his life, grabbing (a witness') leg." Brickey said.

Three women testified about watching the violence unfold. They said when Alaniz found out about the rape, she cold-cocked Seja, then stabbed him as Anthony Nunez held him down. But defense attorneys say the witnesses lied, possibly to protect another person in the house. "Whatever you heard there, it was garbage and it wasn't proof beyond a reasonable doubt," said Gerald Schwab, the defense attorney for Alaniz.

At the central Fresno home, the garbage is where police found physical evidence of the crime. Seja was buried under the house. And inside a trashed bleach bottle, wrapped inside a diaper, investigators found two knives with remnants of Seja's DNA. But not Alaniz's. And not Nunez's.

"There's no special bleach or cleanup process that takes Alaniz's and Nunez's DNA out and leaves everyone else," said Amy Guerra, the defense attorney for Nunez.

Their fingerprints weren't there either. But an autopsy on Seja backed up some of what the witnesses said. "Physical evidence cannot be contradicted," Brickey said. "Mr. Seja's body bears silent witness to what happened to him."

Prosecutors say what happened was street justice. Jurors will now decide what form real justice should take.