Man's Conviction Upheld for Killing Supervisor at Pizza Restaurant

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A state appeals court panel today upheld a man's conviction for fatally stabbing his supervisor at a Domino's Pizza in La Puenteafter repeatedly being told to make a series of deliveries nearly 3 1/2 years ago.

The three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense's contention that Rafael Sanchez's  conviction for the March 10, 2018, killing of Daniel Anthony Sanchez -- to whom the defendant was not related -- should be reduced from first-degree murder to second-degree murder.

“There is substantial evidence of planning,'' the panel found in its 13-page ruling. “Defendant brought a knife to work, faked his departure from the busy kitchen, took the time to unfold his knife, and then approached Daniel from behind. This planning enabled defendant to have a weapon at the ready and to have the element of surprise.''

The panel noted that the attack occurred after the 21-year-old assistant manager asked the defendant three times -- with the manager and another assistant manager echoing the final request for Rafael Sanchez to make the deliveries.

The justices also found that it was “not reasonably probable the jury would have reached a different result'' if a judge had excluded the prosecution's rebuttal evidence that the defendant possessed knives that were similar in design to the knife that he used to kill Daniel Sanchez, possessed police-related paraphernalia and flashed his security guard badge at someone -- all in 2017.

The appellate court panel noted that the defendant called a psychologist, who said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder based on his reporting of the diagnostic elements of PTSD, but did nothing to verify the truth of anything he had told her.

Rafael Sanchez, now 34, is serving a 26-years-to-life sentence in state prison.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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