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Knife, note lead to murder conviction

Fayette County prosecutor Warren Sellers briefly displayed a large kitchen knife Thursday as he argued that Jesus Ojeda Jimenez should be convicted for brutally stabbing his wife nine times and then leaving her to die in front of their three young children at the Landmark Mobile Home Park Jan. 20.

While that knife was the instrument that killed Liliana Ruiz, it also helped convict Jimenez for the heinous crime. After turning himself in to authorities, Jimenez admitted to Fayette County detectives that he had used the knife to stab Ruiz.

A Fayette County jury found Jimenez guilty of all six counts: malice murder, felony murder, three counts of cruelty to children in the first degree and one count of possession of a knife during the commission of a crime. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 40 years in prison, by Fayette County Superior Court Judge Robert Mack Crawford.

The jury learned that Jimenez left behind a note, written in Spanish, that asked for forgiveness and also for someone to care for his children.

Defense attorney Marco Corales argued that Jimenez should be found not guilty of the murder charges and instead found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Corales said Jimenez flew into a rage after Ruiz returned home from having dinner with another man whom Jimenez suspected of having an affair with his wife.

Sellers, the prosecutor, noted that the case didn’t qualify for that lower charge because the note, along with the fact that Jimenez laid in wait — with a knife in his hand — for Ruiz to come home, was plenty of evidence to prove the crime was premeditated and not a spontaneous reaction.

The jury also heard the 911 call for help made by the couple’s 9-year-old son, who had run to a neighbor’s home to call for help.

“My dad stabbed my mom,” the child told a 911 operator in a recording played for the jury Tuesday. “... We need an ambulance. It’s an emergency.”

Jurors also saw the photos from the blood-soaked seat of the vehicle Ruiz had exited just prior to the attack. The knife pierced Ruiz’s jugular vein, her lungs and her liver, Sellers said.

During the attack, the couple’s oldest son, then 11, tried to stop his father to no avail, as he was pushed back by Jimenez, Sellers added.

When a neighbor came outside and scared Jimenez off, it left the 11-year-old boy to pull the knife from his mother, the prosecutor said.

“He held her as she drew her last breath,” Sellers told the jury.

Jimenez had been deported from the United States in April 2010: two months after he pled guilty to striking Ruiz multiple times in a November, 2009 assault that left her with a number of bruises and abrasions all over her body, a swollen eye and a bloody nose, according to the sheriff’s incident report.

Det. Wendy Moulder of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office served as the lead investigator in the case.

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