‘Jealousy is no excuse’ – Riled judge sentences unapologetic suspect in restaurant stabbing
Defying the judge and the woman he nearly stabbed to death in 2003, Jose Odilio Saravia refused to accept fault for his crime – and even blamed the victim – at his sentencing Monday.
An increasingly agitated Judge Albert P. Dover sent Saravia to prison for a term of 24 years to life, meaning Saravia can only apply for parole after serving 24 years.
“You stabbed her,” Dover told Saravia during the hearing. “She wasn’t stabbed by an accident. That’s your view – you are going to take your view to prison.”
Saravia was 55 on Jan. 1, 2003, when he stabbed the woman at Amigos & Co. Mexican restaurant on East Main Street, where the victim worked. The woman had just broken up with him and moved out of their residence after years of abuse, Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Kull said.
He pleaded “no contest” in June to a charge of attempted murder. As part of the plea agreement, a charge of intentionally causing permanent disability was dismissed.
According to court records and police, Saravia sneaked into the restaurant and picked up a 12-inch butcher knife. He then waited for the woman by the front entrance of the restaurant.
The victim saw the knife but didn’t think Saravia would actually try to stab her, Kull said. However, he attacked her with the blade, which resulted in serious injuries for the victim and himself.
Despite numerous wounds to her face, neck, torso, hands and legs, the woman was able to escape outside and into a nearby business. Restaurant patrons locked the doors to keep Saravia inside, and he collapsed onto the floor in the dining area after receiving two stab wounds in the abdomen during the attack. It was unclear exactly how he was injured in the attack.
“It’s important to recognize the profound sadness in this case,” Kull told the judge. “Her life will never be the same.”
Kull said the victim, who was 32 at the time, lost the use of a kidney, almost had two fingers severed and has a scar running from her neck to her stomach.
“She has disfigurements over her face and scars over her body,” Kull said.
The victim was present for the sentencing but chose to have Kull speak to the judge for her.
“She continues to have nightmares,” Kull said. “Suicide has been an issue twice. She is still scared of him to this day. She fears for her family, even with him behind bars.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Saravia said the stabbing was an accident and was the victim’s fault, because she committed a sin.
The El Salvador native began staring at the woman as soon as she walked into the courtroom, and he looked away only briefly throughout the hearing.
As his first statement to Dover, Saravia demanded an investigation to prove that the woman left him for another man, whom she was living with.
“Jealousy is no excuse,” Dover said. “These excuses don’t satisfy you stabbing her.”
To that, Saravia responded that the woman’s leaving him, allegedly for someone else, caused him to get upset, drink and nearly kill her.
“If it hadn’t been for these (events) I wouldn’t have done that,” he said.
“I don’t care how insulted you might feel … you never owned this woman,” Dover shot back.
The woman, who sat with friends and several victim advocates, was composed during most of her attacker’s statement. Six inmates who were sitting to Saravia’s left stared at him with obvious disgust and glanced at the victim with looks of sympathy. An inmate directly to the left slid his chair away from Saravia’s.
Several times Saravia smiled at the woman, who would then look down at her lap.
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