A Signal Hill man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to killing a good Samaritan whom authorities said tried to detain him after police were called about an alleged violation of a restraining order in Long Beach.
Edson Eduardo Rufino, 19, is charged with one felony count of murder and two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon — a knife, along with one misdemeanor count each of contempt of court and resisting arrest, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The murder charge stems from the April 2 stabbing of Leandro Maza, 31, of Long Beach.
Rufino allegedly went to visit his girlfriend at her mother’s home in violation of a restraining order, and reportedly threatened his girlfriend’s brother and another visitor to the home with a knife when his girlfriend’s mother called police, according to prosecutors. Maza was also staying at the house at the time.
The girlfriend’s mother had a restraining order against him, police said shortly after the killing.
Rufino allegedly fled with his girlfriend into another home. Maza, armed with a metal pole, followed and helped to detain him as they waited for police, and Rufino allegedly then pushed his way out of the home and fatally stabbed Maza, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Maza was taken to a hospital, where he died that night of a stab wound to the chest, according to the coroner’s office.
Rufino was arrested by Long Beach police early the next morning after being found in his car with his girlfriend, police said after the incident. He has remained behind bars since then, jail records show.
He is due back in a Long Beach courtroom May 12, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial.
If convicted as charged, he could face a potential life prison sentence, according to the District Attorney’s Office.