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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 7:33 am | Fair 44º


Lompoc Police Sergeant Testifies About Texts Between Homicide Suspect, Victim

Jurors in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court trial of Eduardo Robles saw some of the homicide victim's final words via text messages exchanged with the man now charged with killing her six years ago.

Eduardo Robles
Eduardo Robles

Robles, now 29, is on trial for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Selina Lopez Bustos, 30, in June 2012 in Lompoc. Although he was identified as the suspect, Robles wasn't arrested until 2013 in Mexico and returned to Santa Barbara County in 2014 after extradition.

Sgt. Kevin Martin from the Lompoc Police Department testified Friday afternoon about cellphones of the victim and defendant, including text messages and other data showing locations of the devices in the hours after Bustos died. 

On the day of the slaying, the pair exchanged multiple text messages in Spanish. An English version of the exchanges was presented in court.

“I gave you your space and you know it,” Martin read of the text messages in which Robles apparently chaffed at the woman spending too much time with her visiting godmother. “I don’t think you have to be with her the entire time.”

Later, Bustos tells him that it’s not healthy to depend on another person. As they made plans to meet June 15, 2012, Bustos made a comment about "the last time."

“But it’s not going to be the last time or will it be?” Robles asked in a text he sent two more times.

Bustos was supposed to leave for a vacation the next day, but authorities believe she was killed between 8:08 p.m. and 9:58 p.m. when cellphone activity became quiet. 

The homicide victim’s phone later responded to a text from her mom saying she was on the way.

“But at this point she’s already dead?” Deputy District Attorney Anne Nudson asked as Martin replied, “Yes.”

Using Verizon Wireless data obtained via a warrant, he also showed the locations of the devices after Bustos’ death, when both cellphones were in the same general area in the Lompoc and Santa Ynez valleys. In one instance, two calls occurred with both devices using the same cellphone tower, prompting Nudson to ask what it indicated.

“They’ve relatively close together,” Martin said.

On Friday morning, a former girlfriend, Brianda Torres of Lompoc, testified about her yearlong relationship with Robles from 2009 to 2010, recalling one instance when he became angry and pushed her to the ground. He later sent intimate videos to at least one friend and family member when she refused to get back together with him.

“In the beginning, it was like a normal relationship,” Torres said. “But towards the end of the relationship, it was real scary.”

She recalled that Robles tried to isolate her from friends and family. Torres said she ended the relationship the first time after he allegedly shoved her to the ground, but they got back together after Robles threatened to show some intimate videos.

“I was scared so I went back to him,” she said. However, she said, he sent the intimate images and pictures to her mom and friend.

When they broke up for the final time, Torres obtained a restraining order after the ex-boyfriend allegedly called multiple times a day and had threatened to kill her.

“He said I would one day wake up and he would put a bomb under my mom’s car,” she said. 

Defense attorney Sydney Bennett asked Torres why she wrote on a restraining order request that she was not being physically abused. The witness said she meant that physical abuse was not happening, but that Robles caused emotional abuse.

Bennett also asked whether the restraining order instructed both Torres and Robles not to have contact with each other.

“I just remember if I was in a place he had to leave,” Torres said. 

Torres later explained that she never mentioned the earlier incident about being shoved to the ground because she feared law enforcement officers would not believe her since Robles had claimed to be a police informant.

The police sergeant is expected to continue testifying when the trial before Judge Gustavo Lavayen resumes Monday morning.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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