OC man admits killing girlfriend, attorney says, but denies killing his 2 boys

The trial of a man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death and killing their two young sons began Monday with a defense attorney acknowledging that the defendant is responsible for the woman’s slaying but denying he was responsible for the death of the two boys.

The triple-murder trial of Shazer Fernando Limas, an Orange resident at the time of the alleged killings, comes more than a decade after the body of his girlfriend — 31-year-old Arlet Hernandez Contreras — was found dumped in a gutter in Los Angeles County. The couple’s children — 16-month-old Fernando Hernandez Limas and 3-month-old Emanuel Hernandez Limas — never have been found, though Limas has been charged with their killings.

Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis began his opening statement to an Orange County Superior Court jury by citing alleged comments Limas, now 42, made about Contreras to people he knew, including “I hate her. I wish she did not have those kids” and “Arlet is ruining my life. I wish she was gone.”

Associate Defender Michael Hill countered by telling jurors that Contreras previously had threatened to hurt herself or her children and alleging that Limas himself suffered what appeared to be defense knife wounds to his hands the day of Contreras’ death.

Both attorneys described Limas as a womanizer who routinely cheated on the women in his life. The prosecutor said Limas lied to women he knew — including his girlfriend at the time — about having any kids. And the defense attorney said Limas had made clear to Contreras that he didn’t want to be with her.

The attorneys both also acknowledged that Contreras would show up when Limas didn’t want to see her in order to confront him or the women he was with. The defense attorney described her as becoming “increasingly disturbed and obsessed” both with Limas’ infidelity and with her desire to stay with him.

On April 12, 2012, Contreras brought the two boys to an apartment Limas was renting at a large complex in Orange. An argument reportedly ensued, the police came and Contreras left, only to return later that night after Limas called her.

The prosecutor said that sometime on April 13 or 14 Limas killed Contreras and his boys. On the night of the 14th, he called his then-girlfriend and told her he had injured his hands in a fight while out with friends, the prosecutor said. The girlfriend persuaded him to get medical treatment, and Limas checked into a hospital under another persons name, the prosecutor added.

Guirguis alleged that from April 14 through April 24 Limas let Contreras’ body rot in a balcony closet. The prosecutor did not say what is believed to have happened to the bodies of the two boys.

“The defendant lives his life as if nothing happened,” Guirguis said. “He goes to dinners, rents limos, goes to dance clubs, goes to improv, goes to birthday parties, hosts some friends over to his place.”

Limas moved some furniture to cover up blood in his apartment, the prosecutor said, and hired a friend to try to clean up the stains. Other residents later reported seeing him throw away children’s clothing, a high-chair and strollers.

Contreras’ mother began getting text messages from her daughters phone that claimed she had gone on a sudden vacation. The prosecutor said it was Limas sending those messages after the alleged killings.

On April 24, the prosecutor said, Limas loaded at least Contreras’ body into a large chest and moved it  into a U-Haul his friend had rented to move furniture. He dumped her body — covered in plastic and a comforter — into an industrial area in Los Angeles County, the prosecutor said. Then, the prosecutor added, GPS tracking data showed Limas drive into the mountains.

The next day, workers in La Puente discovered Contreras’ body. An autopsy determined she had suffered 48 stab wounds and due to decomposition authorities had to use her fingerprints to identify her.

On April 28, Limas apparently broke his lease at the Orange apartment complex, moving out quickly and without advanced warning to management. When workers came in to prepare the unit for the next tenant, they were greeted by a foul odor, large bleach stains, blood spatter on walls and ceilings and pools of blood underneath the carpet.

Several days later, police took Limas into custody following a high-speed chase on the 405 and 5 freeways, which ended when the pursing police cars used a spike strip. He had Contreras’ phone with him at the time of his arrest, the prosecutor said.

When a friend visiting Limas in jail later asked about the boys, Limas answered that “They are safe with God,” the prosecutor said.

“No one has seen or heard from them in these past ten and a half years,” Guirguis told jurors, noting the boys would be 10 and 11-years-old today.

Limas’ attorney acknowledged that the evidence clearly shows Contreras died at the apartment.

“Mr. Limas is responsible for the death of Arlet Contreras, we are telling you that from the beginning of this case,” Hill told jurors. “Mr. Limas did not kill his children or harm them in any way.”

The wounds Limas himself suffered appeared defensive, his attorney said, as if he had grabbed an attackers knife. The defense attorney said Contreras had previously threatened to kill herself or her children.

“She ultimately followed through with these threats and it resulted in her own death,” Hill said.

The defense attorney did not specify what he believed happened to the two boys. He said Limas’ actions after Contreras’ death showed he did not plan out her killing.

“His actions are evidence of a man in reaction mode,” Hill said.

If convicted of the charges he is facing, Limas faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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