FULLERTON (CBSLA.com)  —  Authorities said a Santa Ana man was sentenced Friday to 35 years to life for fatally stabbing a man who owed him $50.

Mario Alberto Rodriguez testified that the victim, 26-year-old Paul Anthony Garcia, gave him a debit card to pay off the debt, but it had no
value, according to Senior Deputy D.A.  Jim Mendelson.

Rodriguez was found guilty Aug. 2 of second-degree murder.

When Rodriguez spotted Garcia on March 9, 2013, the defendant, with his father and another friend in tow, chased the victim for a few blocks into the El Chile Picante restaurant, the prosecutor said.

RELATED LINK: Police Name 3 Suspects — Including Father And Son — In Irvine Man’s Murder

Restaurant employees told Rodriguez the business had surveillance cameras and told him to get out, the prosecutor said.

He complied, but waited by the exit for the victim, the prosecutor said.

The defendant, now 27, then chased Garcia across the street to a parking lot, where he stabbed the victim in the chest, Mendolson said.

Rodriguez fled to Mexico, but after returning, he saw news reports that police were looking for him. He again went south of the border, Mendolson said. He was later extradited back to Orange County.

Rodriguez has a prior conviction for possession of a controlled substance for sale to benefit a gang, which is a strike, so that added to his
sentence, officials said.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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