Defendant: Party was hostile before he threw can

By Alisa Boswell
Staff writer
aboswell@pntonline.com

Following closing arguments, jury deliberations are expected to begin today in the trial of Ricardo “Rico” Sena.

Sena, 27, is charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of 17-year-old Devin Saiz in March 2013.

Sena also faces four other charges from the incident, and faces anywhere from four to 59 years in prison if convicted on any or all counts.

The defense says Sena was protecting his younger sister during a fight outside a residence on Reid Street.

Defense Attorney Gary Mitchell called Sena, his only witness, to the stand Monday afternoon.

Sena gave a similar testimony to that of his sister, Staci Sena, 18, by saying he was attacked by several people during a party in which alcohol was being consumed.

But unlike many witness who testified last week, Sena said the atmosphere at the party was hostile before he threw a full can of beer, hitting a female teenager in the face.

In previous testimony, witnesses said that Marisa Martinez, 17, and Staci Sena, 18, had a long-standing rivalry, so when Staci Sena arrived at the party, Martinez confronted her in the street.

Most witness accounts have said when the two teenage girls were preparing to fight was when Sena threw the beer can.

Most witnesses, including Staci Sena and Rico Sena’s friend, Sean Lopez, said Sena hitting Martinez in the face with the beer can is what caused the group of 20 to 25 people to begin fighting.

Since he did not own a vehicle, Ricardo Sena said his sister would normally pick him up from work in her vehicle, and he would drop her off wherever she was going, so he could keep the vehicle.

Sena said he did not know anyone at the party and had no intentions of remaining at the party, but decided to check the party out when he learned his sister did not know many people at the party.

Sena said he threw the beer can to scare people and get them to back away, but did not aim for anyone in particular.

He said he was alert upon arriving to the party because there were about 20 partygoers outside the residence on Reid Street and their demeanor was not friendly when they approached him and his sister.

“I was like, ‘What did we just walk into?’” Sena said.

Sena admitted stabbing Saiz, who died of a single stab wound to the chest, according to a state forensic pathologist, saying he owned a pocket knife that he always carried.

He said he saw a man with something in his hands charging for his sister, so he threw himself between his sister and her attacker, stabbing the man as he did so.

Mitchell asked Sena if he was scared during the fight.

“I’d say that’s an understatement,” Sena replied. “I didn’t know what to think.”

“I feared more for my hita,” he added later. “That’s my baby sister, you know?”

Sena said there was no way Saiz could have been lunging for anyone other than his sister because she was the only one standing there.

“I didn’t mean to kill him,” Sena said, his voice breaking slightly.

When asked by Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover during cross-examination why he didn’t make his sister leave when he realized there was drinking involved, Sena replied, “I’m not her parent. I don’t demand of my sister. I let her go and do her thing.”