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Escort Service Driver, Accused of Fatally Stabbing Man When Stripper Refused Sex, to Stand Trial

James Michael Apodaca (Photo: Corona Police Department)
James Michael Apodaca (Photo: Corona Police Department)
An escort service driver accused of fatally stabbing a Riverside County man in a fight over a stripper refusing to provide sexual favors must stand trial for second-degree murder, a judge ruled Wednesday.

James Michael Apodaca, 32, of Corona, could face 15 years to life in prison if convicted in the November death of 25-year-old Robert Alexander.

Following a daylong preliminary hearing, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Eric Helgesen found there was enough evidence to bind Apodaca over for trial on the murder count, as well as a sentence-enhancing weapon allegation.

Helgesen scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Jan. 23 and left the defendant's bail set at $1 million. Apodaca is jailed at Smith Correctional in Banning.

Deputy District Attorney Elan Zekster described the defendant as the "muscle" for an Inland Empire-based escort service that "scammed" customers by suggesting they would receive sex for money, but instead were only offered strip tease acts that lasted 30 minutes and cost $200.

"He knows how dangerous this is. That's why he arms himself with a knife," Zekster said of Apodaca while arguing that he be held to answer the murder charge. "It's an extremely dangerous situation when you are scamming
men for money."

According to testimony, Alexander, also of Corona, contacted the escort business about 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 15, seeking female companionship. A woman identified only as "Maria" was sent to the victim's apartment in the 1600 block of Via Pacifica.

Maria testified that Apodaca - who goes by the moniker "Monster" because of his 6-foot, 380-pound frame - was her driver that morning.

The witness said she told Alexander that there would be "no touching" while she stripped and danced. Around 3 a.m., the dance concluded, and Maria grabbed $200 that Alexander had laid on his dresser, but she said the victim stopped her from leaving the apartment and demanded his money back.

The woman alleged she feared being beaten and tried to return the money, at which point Apodaca knocked on the front door.

According to the prosecution, the defendant was armed with a knife and brandished it, insisting that Alexander let Maria leave with the money.

Alexander got a box cutter and held it behind his back, telling Apodaca to back away from his door, but the defendant reached inside, apparently to
grab Maria's arm, according to testimony.

"Monster went into the residence, gesturing with his knife," Zekster said.

He said Alexander swung the box cutter at Apodaca's hand - slicing him
between two fingers - out of fear. Apodaca lunged at the victim with his knife, stabbing him in the neck and severing his carotid artery, the prosecutor said.

Deputy Public Defender Melissa Hale argued that Apodaca was defending himself after being attacked.

"His hand had been sliced open," she told the court, asking that charges be dismissed. "You had two people who were both armed. Mr. Alexander was being aggressive and clearly unhappy. My client had the right to protect
himself."

Helgesen agreed with the prosecution's theory that the defendant and those with whom he worked were taking money under "false pretenses" and
therefore setting the stage for a confrontation that turned deadly.

Reported by City News Service in Riverside
beaumontdave January 08, 2014 at 09:26 PM
What was he [Apodaca] going to do when the guy refusing to pay had a gun or help with weapons. Sounds like a dangerous, stupid way to make $200, split at least three ways. Of course the real bad guy is the one who thinks up and promotes this hustle. I hope everyone involved and their family sues the pimpstyle hustler to financial oblivion.
Rob Turmer January 09, 2014 at 01:53 AM
Wonderful world we live in. Hard call as to who did what in this case, but hitting the carotid artery in first swipe? Sounds like the guy is a pro at knowing how to attack. 200 bucks for a dance, who pays that?/
rubberband January 10, 2014 at 01:45 PM
No one, unless you REALLY LIKE THE DANCING. I've paid more for tickets to an event to see artists perform. I doubt anything "Maria" was doing wasn't available at any strip club...it's the idea that SEX would happen and DIDN'T and that quite obviously a scam was being pulled....Here is a blanket statement for ya: MOST men do NOT ENJOY being teased and set up. When you attach sex to ANYTHING, it's gonna change the way things happen...I'd be really pissed if I paid a guy to fix my car and he screwed me over, right? But he is just fixing my car, and I am not that vulnerable, really. If I bother to do so, I can :Take his ass to small claims court, ruin his standing on public forums like Yelp, get all "Clint Eastwood" on him and kick every dime he stole out of him, point is: I have recourse. When you hire a woman for sex.....this is no longer a mere business dealing that went bad...What was he gonna do? Call the cops and say "Some stripper I was gonna bang took off with my money after shaking it for a while and her scary-ass bouncer/pimp threatened to cut me?" You actually DO get what you pay for...every single time.
Steve January 11, 2014 at 11:24 PM
But your honor, I was protecting her from being raped,,,,,everyone knows prostitution is illegal,,,, the girl was just supposed to dance for him,,,, he's the criminal..... besides, dead men tell no tales.
desertpatriot January 12, 2014 at 02:22 PM
i hope maria does not walk away with a slap on the hand. she's an accessory to murder and deserves the same amount of jail time as fatso apodaca
rubberband January 12, 2014 at 03:25 PM
What Steve said
Steve January 12, 2014 at 03:52 PM
This is a better scam than "the badger game".
rubberband January 12, 2014 at 05:15 PM
LOL....Wanna go on a snipe hunt? Buy a bridge? Get millions from an African Prince?.....My question: why you paying for sex? Wait...nevermind. The picture that comes to mind isn't good. Desertpatriot: COme on! Maria is a victim, Bro....She HAD NO IDEA that this was illegal....Remember? Just trying to work her way thru college...yea.....Poor thing. I am certain she is truly an artist, and the classically trained young lady had a big misunderstanding... Swan Lake my ass.
desertpatriot January 12, 2014 at 07:33 PM
@rbm: "victim" my @ss. wadaya kiddin' me? any woman who would lure a man to his death via sex deserves the harshest punishment
Steve January 12, 2014 at 09:46 PM
@dp, You didn't read the last 2 words from rb, he was being facetious.
desertpatriot January 12, 2014 at 10:50 PM
sometimes rbm is hard to predict
rubberband January 12, 2014 at 11:08 PM
Yea, sorry. I get that a lot, even IRL....Online it's even worse.... Was being sarcastic.....I am not seeing any real victims here. Some really stupid decisions ending predictably; yes. Victims? No.
rubberband January 12, 2014 at 11:45 PM
(ha ha ha stripper is 'classically trained' and dances swan lake wouldnt that be a total trip? do you pay her more or get mad?)
desertpatriot January 13, 2014 at 01:04 AM
@rbm: and not a little bit of sympathy towards the true victim here robert alexander? surely you jest. surely you cannot be that cold hearted
rubberband January 13, 2014 at 02:31 AM
Serious-sober answer: I wholeheartedly wish people didn't die in terror and with their last moment being witnessed by people who have either done the fatal blow or don't give a shit...and it happens hourly, and other people will be affected and have much work/sorrow/shit to clean up and work thru because of a chain reaction of unmindful/unwise choices....... Smart-ass answer: I wholeheartedly wish people didn't die in terror and with their last moment being witnessed by people who have either done the fatal blow or don't give a shit...and it happens hourly, and other people will be affected and have much work/sorrow/shit to clean up and work thru because of a chain reaction of unmindful/unwise choices........................... BOTTOM LINE: “Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still." ---T.S. Eliot

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