Calif. man accused of slashing COs to stand trial

“I didn’t know if my co-worker was going to die. So I stepped into the situation then I got hit in the face and neck.”

Robert Rodriguez
Fresno Bee

FRESNO, Calif. — A Fresno man with a lengthy criminal history, will stand trial for allegedly stabbing a man to death and slashing two Fresno County correctional officers, a judge decided Tuesday.

Emilio Juanito Mancia, 37, was arrested by Fresno police in connection with the death of Martin Holt, 36, on May 14, 2016.

Mancia is charged with one count of murder for Holt’s death. He faces two counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a custodial officer for the alleged attack on the correctional officers.

He also faces a count of possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner. Superior Court Judge Jane Cardoza on Tuesday decided there was ample evidence to send Mancia’s case to trial.

Holt was riding his bike north on Blackstone Avenue toward Belmont Avenue when detectives allege Mancia came up to him, hit him in the face and stabbed him in the neck.

Holt was treated at the scene, but later died at Fresno Community Regional Center. Detective Victor Miranda, who observed the autopsy, testified that Mancia killed Holt by slicing the carotid artery in his neck.

Detective Daniel Messick testified Tuesday that investigators used video surveillance from nearby businesses to piece together what happened and to identify a possible suspect.

Messick said the video showed Holt being attacked and a suspect running from the scene. Detectives later identified the suspect as Mancia.

Police didn’t need to go far to find him.

He was in the Fresno County jail, and had been arrested that day for allegedly violating his probation. The arresting officer confirmed the man in the video surveillance footage was the man he arrested. His mother also identified him in the video surveillance photos, Messick said.

While in Fresno County jail, Mancia allegedly attacked two correctional officers on Sept. 4, 2018.

Detective Christine Versola testified Mancia was being taken to a cell for a video phone call when the attack happened. After he was done with his call, Mancia knocked on the door, letting theme know he was ready to be taken back to his cell, Versola said.

But as one of the correctional officers was opening the door, Mancia began slashing him with a homemade weapon, catching him on the cheek and part of his neck. Versola said inmates remove the blade from a disposal razor and create a handle using whatever they can find. The inmates call the weapon a “tomahawk.”

As Mancia and the officer were on the floor, a second correctional officer, Kamal Singh, jumped in to try and gain control of Mancia.

Singh testified that he could see the other officer bleeding profusely from his neck.

“I didn’t know if my co-worker was going to die,” Singh testified. “So I stepped into the situation then I got hit in the face and neck.”

Singh said the shank went through his left check and cut into his neck. Singh thought the weapon had lodged into his check. In the confusion of trying to find the weapon, Singh put his two middle fingers through his cheek.

The eight-year-veteran correctional officer said he still suffers from his injury. He has a scar several inches long on his cheek and has grown a beard because shaving is painful. He’s also had to adjust how he speaks and eats.

“I can’t chew steak anymore and pretty much have to stick to soft food,” Singh said.

Mancia will be arraigned on March 20 in Dept. 30. His bail is $2.4 million.

If convicted on all charges, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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