A Signal Hill man pleaded not guilty, Tuesday, to charges that he fatally stabbed a Good Samaritan trying to detain him for violating a restraining order on April 2.
Police said Edson Rufino, 19, was in violation of a restraining order his girlfriend’s mother had against him when he went to her home on 400 block of E. 21st Street.
The victim, 31-year-old Leandro Maza, was visiting Long Beach with his father and fiance from Mar del Plata, Argentina, according to Argentinian newspaper Clarin. Police initially said Maza was the girlfriend’s mother’s roommate, but it appears he was an acquaintance.
Prosecutors said when the mother called the police for violating the restraining order, Rufino threatened the girlfriend’s brother and another visitor to the home with a knife. He then fled to another home near the 2000 block of Linden Avenue, where Maza was staying. Maza then tried to keep Rufino detained until police got there, prosecutors said.
“The defendant reportedly pushed his way out of the home and fatally stabbed Maza,” prosecutors said.
Rufino has been charged with one felony count of murder, two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, as well as one misdemeanor count each of contempt of court and resisting arrest. If convicted as charged, he faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison. His bail is set at $2 million and he is scheduled to return to court on May 12.
Maza’s family is desperately trying to fundraise to get his body home to Argentina, but the effects of the pandemic are further complicating that effort, according to Clarin.