A Newport News judge this week dismissed a murder charge against a Hampton man who was accused of stabbing a 27-year-old man to death in a Denbigh apartment in September.
General District Court Judge Robert G. Saunders ruled that there wasn’t sufficient cause to proceed with the second-degree murder case against 20-year-old Carlos Rozada, who witnesses said stabbed the other man in the back to get him off a woman he was assaulting.
Witnesses said Carlos Fontanez was squeezing the woman during an altercation, causing her to say she couldn’t breathe. That’s when Rozada — the woman’s brother-in-law — grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Fontanez six times in the back.
After hearing the evidence, Saunders declined to send the murder charge to a grand jury in Newport News Circuit Court.
Though Rozada was initially denied bond in September, he was released to “pre-trial services” — a form of pre-trial probation — on Oct. 16, a Newport News sheriff’s office spokeswoman said. But he’s now free from that obligation following Saunders’ ruling dismissing the case.
The case’s prosecutor, Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Chad Perkins, could not immediately be reached Friday on whether prosecutors would seek a direct indictment or let the matter go.
Police went to the apartment, on Old Courthouse Way in Denbigh about 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 after a 911 call about the stabbing that Sunday evening. Fontanez, a roommate of the home’s residents, was taken to Riverside Regional Medical Center, where he died a few hours later.
Rozada, who was 19 at the time, would not speak with police detectives. But two others in the home that night told them that Fontanez was “in a struggle” with the pregnant woman in a bedroom.
“Mr. Fontanez had his arms around (the woman) ... and was squeezing her,” an affidavit said, adding that the man said he and Rozada couldn’t get Fontanez off her. When the woman said she couldn’t breathe, the affidavit said, Rozada went to the kitchen to get a knife, then came back to the bedroom and stabbed Fontanez.
A witness told police that he Rozada and Fontanez “had consumed and were under the influence of LSD” at the time. The woman wasn’t seriously injured.
Rozada’s attorney, Scott Ehrenworth, contended that Rozada — a furniture store worker with no prior criminal history — said at a prior hearing that his client acted to protect the woman and her unborn child.
Peter Dujardin, 757-247-4749, firstname.lastname@example.org