A Long Beach man was sentenced today to 16 years to life in prison for fatally stabbing another man who angered him when he stepped over his laptop.
Logan James Cunningham, 29, was convicted in May of second-degree murder of 40-year-old Jason Paul Torres of Costa Mesa on Aug. 7, 2016, near a Shell station at 710 E. Dyer Road in Santa Ana.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Fish characterized the case as “gut wrenching,” as he noted the role drugs played in the conflict.
“My heart goes out to both families,” Fish said. “This is a tragic waste. There’s no other way to describe it.”
Cunningham declined to make a statement to the judge. As he was being led out of the courtroom he told family member he loved them.
Cunningham and Torres were with other friends partying at a Santa Ana motel when “at one point the defendant told everyone in the motel room, ‘Don’t step over my laptop,’ and at one point the victim does that,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Keith Burke told jurors in his opening statement.
Cunningham complained he was being “disrespected” when one of the friends, Deanna Kirk, said it was “no big deal,” the prosecutor said.
As Cunningham and Torres left the gathering, Kirk lent them her car, Burke said. A short distance from the motel, a homeless man heard the two arguing loudly in the car before it pulled over near the Shell station, the prosecutor said.
The two got out of the car and began throwing punches at each other, but not landing any, Burke said. At some point during the 30-second struggle, Torres was stabbed “at least twice” in the chest, he said.
The transient heard Torres say, “You stabbed me. You stabbed me in the heart. You’re going to jail,” according to Burke.
The prosecutor showed the jury surveillance video of Torres staggering to the Shell station for help. Torres was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, Burke said.
Cunningham made an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve Kirk’s car keys, and when he couldn’t find them, he ran back to the motel, where he told her that he had gotten into a fight, the prosecutor said.
He told jurors that the defendant “wanted to fight and that’s why he parked” in an unlit and dark area, then “pulled out a knife and stabbed Jason Torres in the heart.”
Instead of running to the gas station to get help or calling police, Cunningham ran back to the motel, where he told Kirk he lost the keys to the car but failed to mention the stabbing, Burke said.
Police traced the car back to Kirk’s mother, which led them to Cunningham, the prosecutor said. Police also found Cunningham’s cell phone in the car, he said.
Police arrested Cunningham at his parents’ Long Beach home, where they found an article about the stabbing on a computer monitor, Burke said.
Cunningham “brought a knife to a fistfight,” Burke said. “And he had no legal justification to do that.”
Cunningham’s attorney, Ernest Eady, had predicted jurors were “unlikely to ever hear what started the fight” and after hearing all the evidence “will not find that this rises to the level of a murder.”