DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Jose Arreola, charged in a brutal attack that left his ex-girlfriend critically injured, was back on the witness stand Wednesday, telling jurors that it wasn’t him but the victim who was the aggressor.
Maria Escamilla suffered broken ribs and stab wounds over her entire body during the March 2011 attack. Prosecutors have said the attack is the worst they have ever seen, and the victim survived. Earlier in the trial, jurors were shown emergency room photos of Escamilla’s injuries, which included blackened eyes, severe cuts to her face and breasts — her sexual organs were mutilated.
Defense attorneys are claiming their client acted in self-defense. Arreola told jurors that after a night of drinking and partying, Escamilla flew into a jealous rage at the Lancaster home the couple once shared.
“As I’m walking out of the bedroom, Maria comes at me with two knives,” testified Arreola, [saying] “I’m going to kill you, and she started swinging at me. I had to move out of the way, or she would have stuck me in the chest.”
Jurors were shown a photograph taken at Arreola’s attorney’s office several days after the attack that showed a cut on his palm. It appeared to be about an inch long. Arreola told jurors that he got that cut while struggling with the victim and trying to wrestle the knives out of her hands.
According to Arreola, at one point during the struggle, he fell on top of Escamilla, and he “kicked her” as she grabbed for one of the knives.
Defense attorney Michael J. Todd asked Arreola about the victim’s testimony, including claims that he struck her with a cement block and dragged her across the patio by her hair. Arreola repeatedly answered, “No, I did not” when asked about how the violent confrontation allegedly began.
If convicted of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Arreola faces a sentence of up to life in prison. He remains free on bond.
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