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Jury Finds Man Guilty of Fatally Stabbing Girlfriend in Lompoc in 2012

Eduardo R. Robles, 29, convicted of first-degree murder for killing 30-year-old Selina Bustos

Defense attorney Sydney Bennett, left, stands next to her client Eduardo R. Robles, 29, after the Santa Barbara County Superior Court jury reached a guilty verdict in his case connected to the 2012 fatal stabbing of his girlfriend Selina Bustos, 30, in Lompoc. Click to view larger
Defense attorney Sydney Bennett, left, stands next to her client Eduardo R. Robles, 29, after the Santa Barbara County Superior Court jury reached a guilty verdict in his case connected to the 2012 fatal stabbing of his girlfriend Selina Bustos, 30, in Lompoc. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

After deliberating approximately 90 minutes, a Santa Maria Superior Court jury on Monday found a man guilty of murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend in Lompoc six years ago.

The panel of seven men and five women convicted Eduardo R. Robles, 29, of first-degree murder for the death of Selina Bustos, 30, on June 15, 2012.

Jurors in the trial also found Robles guilty of theft for taking Bustos' cellphone to Mexico. Additionally, the panel deemed as true the special allegations including use of a deadly weapon. 

The woman had 30 stab wounds, six of which could be considered lethal, according to authorities.

During the trial, prosecutors Brandon Jebens and Anne Nudson presented evidence that Bustos had tried to break up with Robles, and showed a series of text messages to reveal a controlling relationship.

In his closing argument, Jebens said the wounds on Bustos “show an angry and ferocious attack.”

A former girlfriend of Robles testified that when she tried to end the relationship with Robles, he became "real scary."

Defense attorney Sydney Bennett blamed the fact Robles worked as a police informant for his girlfriend’s death.

Robles also testified in his own defense during the trial.

“This case has scared me from the very get-go,” Bennett told jurors, explaining that Robles taking the witness stand to talk about being an informant put her client’s life in danger.

Bustos' body was found on June 16, 2012 in Robles's locked bedroom in a house in the 1000 block of North Sixth Street, and authorities said they also found her blood in Robles' car.

Hours after Bustos' death, Robles fled to Mexico where he was arrested in 2013 and returned to Santa Barbara County in 2014 following the extradition process. 

Reading of the verdicts Monday morning was delayed an hour to give the victim’s family time to get to the Santa Maria Court Complex. 

Beyond saying they were happy with the verdict, her family declined to comment, but hugged Jebens and Nudson. 

“I’m thrilled,” Jebens said outside the courtroom. “This has a been a long case. It’s been four years through the court process. The victim’s family has been here for not only the entire time of the trial, but for every single court appearance as well. 

“She deserves to have some closure and I think the jury came back with the right verdict. We’re going to get some justice for her and her family.”

This has been among the oldest cases awaiting trial in the North County. In addition to the two-year delay to return Robles to Santa Barbara County, the case also has encountered other postponements related to discovery requests and scheduling conflicts. 

Judge Gustavo Lavayen ordered Robles to return to court June 6, when he faces a sentence of 26 years to life in state prison.

“Ms. Bustos’ incomprehensibly violent death was the direct result of the defendant having stabbed her 30 times, leaving her in his locked room and then fleeing to Mexico," District Attorney Joyce Dudley said. "It took almost 2 years to bring him back to Santa Barbara County but our law enforcement team, led by the Lompoc Police Department, was relentless in their pursuit of justice for Ms. Bustos and her loved ones.”

Meanwhile, a jury in a different homicide trial is expected to resume deliberating the fate of former Allan Hancock College basketball players Ali Mohammed and Lavell White on Tuesday after skipping Monday due to court scheduling matters. That panel began considering the complex case Thursday morning with seven felony counts and a number of special allegations and special circumstances to mull.

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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