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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
rubberband May 26, 2014 at 01:20 PM
Rob- THREAD NECROMANCY!!!
Rob Turmer May 26, 2014 at 03:03 PM
Hey there RB. Haven't seen you around B-B, place is dead.
rubberband May 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM
I noticed.....Having a bunch of trips and fun stuff, TRYING to stay cool....a/c went out last year....and they want upwards of 10 grand to fix it...10 grand is going toward other things... Hope you are well, and hanging in there....Go look at my new pets over on the Monrovia Patch. If it keeps being all hot...I might dig a pool.....dying out here...must be roasting out there.
desertpatriot May 27, 2014 at 12:25 PM
@rbm: got two words to share with ya bro: 'swamp cooler'
rubberband May 27, 2014 at 02:09 PM
Yep PD, that might hafta happen...The EPA making everyone switch to different A/C units...I am NOT spending 10 grand plus to fix it. NOPE....man, they don't even MAKE my kind of A/C anymore...Besides...I do just fine if I drink a lot of...water.. yea..water. LOL

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