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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 12:12 am | Fair 45º


Lompoc Murder Case from 2012 Now in the Hands of the Jury

Eduardo Robles is accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend, Selina Bustos, more than two dozen times

Defendant Eduardo Robles, wearing headphones because he uses a court interpreter, listens during his murder trail Friday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. Click to view larger
Defendant Eduardo Robles, wearing headphones because he uses a court interpreter, listens during his murder trail Friday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A 2012 homicide case involving a man accused of stabbing his girlfriend in Lompoc now is in the hands of a Santa Barbara County Superior Court jury after attorneys on both sides gave closing arguments Friday.

Eduardo R. Robles, now 29, has been charged with murder in the death of girlfriend Selina Bustos, 30, of Lompoc on June 15, 2012.

Robles fled to Mexico after the fatal stabbing and was arrested a year later. Following extradition, he was returned to Santa Barbara County in 2014.

Bustos' body — with 30 stab wounds, six of which where lethal — was found June 16, 2012, in a locked bedroom belonging to Robles in a residence in the 1000 block of North Sixth Street. 

“The infliction of those wounds show an angry and ferocious attack,” said Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens, who prosecuted the case along with colleague Anne Nudson.

Bustos was set to leave for a two-week vacation to Mexico the day after she died. 

“He said they had a beautiful relationship, but in reality it was a very uncertain relationship,” Jebens said of the defendant.

Before closing arguments, Bustos’ sister, Elvira Martinez, was the lone rebuttal witness and told about a conversation with the woman.

“I’ve been trying to beak up with Eduardo, but when I tell him he says he’s going to kill himself and I don’t know what’s up,” one text message read. 

Bustos said she had tried to break up with Robles three or four times. 

Text messages between Robles and Bustos along with testimony from an ex-girlfriend showed the “controlling and obsessive nature” of the defendant, according to Jebens. 

“These text messages reveal the reality of their relationship,” he said.

The homicide victim’s and defendant’s phones were silent for a time after the woman’s death. But hours later, someone used her phone to text a Lompoc police officer — Robles' handler — to say “Eduardo is innocent” and to find her body to get it back to his family.

“This is the defendant on Selina’s phone trying to cover his tracks trying to create an alibi for himself,” Jebens said. “When you add up all the evidence, there's only one reasonable interpretation and that is the defendant is guilty.”

During the trial, Robles testified in his own defense, and put his life in jeopardy by discussing his stint serving as a Lompoc police informant, defense attorney Sydney Bennett said.

“Nobody in his right mind would fabricate a story like that and put himself in jeopardy,” Bennett said. 

The prosecution team cannot rule out that someone involved in dealing drugs or laundering money committed the killing, she added. 

While her client’s DNA was found on the knife, testing also revealed DNA belonging to an unknown third person.

“This entire case is circumstantial evidence,” she said, adding that the prosecution didn't present any direct evidence. “We know for a fact another person held that knife.”

Physical evidence showed Bustos was not killed in Robles' car, although her body had been on the front passenger seat, according to blood found there. Bennett questioned why hair found on the front driver’s seat had not been tested.

“That hair could belong to the real killer,” she said.

When Robles fled to Mexico, he didn't take any personal items and only secured a ride at the last minute, Bennett said.

“There was no planning ahead,” Bennett said, adding that Robles did not premeditate the slaying of Bustos.

The defense attorney noted the testimony that revealed that the stab wounds were delivered at different angles, contending the attack was conducted by more than one person.

The knife used in the fatal stabbing was found wrapped in a shirt in Robles’ bedroom, but the clothing did not have any blood on it "and that doesn't make sense," Bennett said. 

Cellphone data recovered after the homicide showed Robles’ cellphone and the one belonging to Bustos were close together while traveling around the Lompoc and Santa Ynez valleys before heading south to Mexico. However, Bennett said the evidence did not prove the devices were in the same vehicle.

In addition to murder or a lesser charge, Robles faces a second count of theft from a person or a lesser charge for taking Bustos’ cellphone to Mexico.

Jurors received the case with an hour left in the court day Friday and were expected to resume deliberations Monday.

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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