SANTA ANA – A Garden Grove man who stabbed a stranger to death during a sudden, unprovoked attack was convicted Friday of murder.
A Santa Ana jury deliberated for about a day before finding Troy David Son, 23, guilty of first-degree murder for the 2015 killing of 19-year-old Bryan Ortega.
The two men didn’t know each other, didn’t exchange any words prior to the attack, and didn’t have any friends in common.
Ortega, a Santa Ana College student, was riding his bike to a friend’s home shortly before 9 p.m. while Son, then 20, was walking back and forth around Avalon Avenue and Fairview Street, his hands in his pockets.
Surveillance video shows Son abruptly knocking Ortega from his bike and then pulling a knife out of a pocket and stabbing the teen several times. Ortega fought back as the two grappled on the ground, causing Son to drop the knife.
Son picked the knife back up, the video shows, and once again stabbed Ortega several times before fleeing.
A red hat Son was wearing had been knocked off during the struggle. Garden Grove investigators identified Son as the attacker based on DNA found in the sweatband.
Ortega’s emotional family members thanked the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Mark Birney, after the verdict. Ortega’s sister, Juriko Granados, said she believed justice had been served.
“Bryan was a great person,” Granados said through tears. “He was my mom’s best friend. That is what hurts the most.”
During the trial, Birney acknowledged to jurors that investigators had been unable to determine a motive. But the prosecutor noted that the killing wasn’t the result of a fight or a struggle, instead describing it as a planned attack by Son.
“It is what he did, it is what he is responsible for,” the prosecutor told jurors.
Son’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Dave Dziejowski, acknowledged that Son killed Ortega. The defense attorney unsuscessfuly argued for a lesser charge, saying Son committed the killing during a psychotic episode while suffering from a “major depressive disorder.”
“He does a horrible thing, and he ultimately realizes it,” Dziejowski told jurors. “But at the time he is doing this, he is doing it under the effects of this mental illness.”
Sentencing is scheduled for April 26. Son faces up to 26 years to life in prison.
Source: Orange County Register