COSTA MESA (CBSLA) – Murder charges against a woman who admitted to fatally stabbing a man nearly three years ago at his Costa Mesa home have been dropped after prosecutors announced that new evidence determined she acted in self-defense.
On March 11, 2017, a then 21-year-old Amber Angelovic stabbed and killed 32-year-old Derek Valentine at his Costa Mesa home while on a date.
Three days later, Angelovic was charged with one felony count of murder and an enhancement of personal use of a weapon.
On Monday, however, Orange County Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown went before a judge requesting that the charges be dropped because prosecutors “obtained additional evidence and are now convinced Ms. Angelovic had a lawful right to self-defense.”
On the night of the murder, Angelovic and Valentine had taken an Uber back to his home after a night out drinking at a bar, the DA’s office said.
Angelovic told Costa Mesa police that Valentine then became violent, hitting her and stopping her from leaving the house. Afraid she might be killed or sexually assaulted, she pulled out a knife, which she had kept on her for protection, and “engaged in a self-defense drill she learned in a self-defense class,” the DA’s office stated in a news release Tuesday.
She stabbed Valentine twice and then called 911, prosecutors said. Officers arrived on scene to find him dead at the bottom of the stairs.
Angelovic told police that she had only been on one date with Valentine prior to that night.
Investigators later discovered drug paraphernalia in in his home, along with a whiteboard with notes on how to stalk women, cell phone text messages in which he denigrated women and books on how to convince women to have sex, the DA’s office reports. On his computer’s online history, they also found he had searched for date-rape drugs.
Prosecutors did not confirm what specific evidence prompted them to drop the charges nearly three years after they were filed.
“The decision to dismiss criminal charges – especially charges that involve the death of a person – is not a decision that is made lightly,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer wrote in a statement. “As prosecutors we must not only consider the evidence; we must also consider all possible defenses. After a thorough review and careful consideration there is insufficient evidence in this case to prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt. It is for that reason – and that reason alone – that I am requested these charges be dismissed.”
All this comes after Spitzer last week attempted to dismiss sexual charges in a high-profile case against a Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend who are charged with drugging and raping several women. Spitzer said that a review of the case found no evidence that the couple had committed sexual assault.
Spitzer accused his predecessor, Tony Rackauckas, of possible prosecutorial misconduct: sensationalizing the case and driving it forward as a publicity stunt to further his own re-election efforts.
However, in a contentious court hearing Feb. 7, the judge refused to drop those charges, demanding more evidence before doing so.