Selina Bustos suffered 30 stab wounds and bled to death before her body was found by police in her boyfriend's bedroom in Lompoc on June 16, 2012, according to trial testimony Thursday at the Santa Maria Superior Court.
Eduardo Robles Robles, 29, is charged with murder of 30-year-old Bustos, a former Hancock College student and Lompoc High School alumnus, who later transferred to Antioch University in Santa Barbara to study psychology.
Bustos, last seen alive on June 15, 2012, after going with Robles to his 1033 N. Sixth St. residence, further suffered six lethal wounds that punctured vital organs including her kidneys, lung, diaphragm and jugular vein, according to autopsy reports.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens and Deputy District Attorney Anne Nudson are prosecuting the case, with defense attorney Sydney Bennett representing Robles.
The prosecution contends that Robles is guilty of killing Bustos, that he had a history of prior domestic abuse with another girlfriend and that he fled to Mexico without telling authorities.
Robles reportedly paid a taxi driver $400, which he withdrew from an ATM machine in Solvang, to take him to Mexico, where he was last seen at a taco stand in Tijuana, according to the prosecution. He was extradited to the United States in 2014.
The defense maintains Robles had been working as an informant for the Lompoc Police since 2009 and fled the country out of fear for his own safety, according to transcripts.
The defense further maintains that the case is riddled with conflicts of interest, bias and personal interest. The team claims there were no eyewitnesses to the alleged homicide and no abuse was reported between the couple, but there was foreign DNA found on the knife handle that didn't belong to either Bustos or Robles, according to transcripts.
On Thursday, forensic pathologist Dr. Robert Anthony maintained the cause of Bustos' death was a combination of stab wounds, blood loss and asphyxiation.
With a photo of Bustos’ body projected onto the screen of Judge Gustavo Lavayen’s courtroom, Anthony counted out each of the stab wounds scattered over the middle and lower part of her back, noting that her injuries indicated the altercation occurred quickly and that she likely died within less than five minutes.
During her cross-examination, Bennett asked Anthony whether there was any way to tell the order in which the wounds were inflicted or how many possible assailants there could be. Anthony said there wasn't.
The attorney also raised questions about the angle of Bustos' stab wounds, indicating that the differing patterns could suggest she was stabbed by more than one instrument.
“There’s also no way to tell who created these wounds, is that correct?” Bennett asked. Anthony said that was correct.
During the prosecution's redirect examination, Anthony testified the pattern of varied stab wound angles is consistent with a struggle between perpetrator and victim, unless the victim couldn’t defend herself.
Testimony resumes Friday morning.