Eduardo: “He was drunk, it didn’t matter what I said to him.”
San Diego County sheriff deputies responded to reports of a fight on the 19300 block of Sierra Verde Road in Valley Center after 4 pm last November 2.
Deputies drove up a long driveway to the main home. They found multiple trailers and other shelters on the property, all being used as homes for relatives of a woman named Alma.
Fabian Nunez, the day he was arrested
Alma and her parents and her four brothers and their children, the nieces and nephews and cousins lived there, according to witnesses.
Deputy William Clem spoke to the matriarch, Alma. She said she had observed the two men who fought that day, Eduardo and Fabian Nunez. She said the two men interacted a lot, and they used bad Spanish words toward each other. Alma said she was not aware until later, that there was a fight and a knife was used.
Deputies spoke to Jose, the man who was married to Alma. Jose was reluctant to give a statement to deputy Jeffrey Chu; he told the deputy that he did not want to put himself in-between all his wife’s relatives and his worker Fabian Nunez.
It had been Jose who got permission for Fabian Nunez to live on the property, because Jose and Nunez worked together.
Jose did see what happened.
Jose said he and Nunez were seated in the courtyard together outside the main house. They were there drinking beers for a couple hours, before Eduardo approached them.
Eduardo was one of Alma’s nephews who lived on the property. He came out of his room, which was inside a garage nearby.
The two men, Eduardo, 19, and Nunez, 26, began to exchange words. Jose told the deputy, “They basically do not get along, and are always arguing.”
Jose said the men began to fight, and Eduardo got Nunez in a headlock. Jose demonstrated for the deputy. When the deputy testified seven months later, he was sure it was not a bear-hug.
Wound on Eduardo’s left side
The man who applied the headlock, Eduardo, later described himself as 5 feet 11 inches tall and 198 pounds. Eduardo is 19 years old.
The smaller man, defendant Fabian Nunez, was described as five feet, five inches tall and 120 pounds. Nunez is 26.
Jose told the deputy that while Eduardo was holding the smaller man, Fabian Nunez pulled out a pocket knife and stabbed Eduardo. Then the two parted and ran separate ways.
Fabian Nunez remained on the property, and when deputies arrived he spoke to them and gave up his pocket knife to them.
He told them he had lived there approximately six months, and he was invited to live there by Jose, with whom he worked. He knew that Jose was married to the matriarch of the residence, Alma, and that she is related to every other person who lives there.
Nunez reportedly told deputies that he became desperate after the larger man got him in a headlock, and he was struck repeatedly on his head, and when Nunez could no longer breathe, he reached for the knife in his pocket.
Fabian Nunez asked the deputies to collect video from the many surveillance cameras around the courtyard where the alleged confrontation occurred, Nunez was sure those recordings would support his claims of self-defense.
But when investigators asked about recordings from those cameras, they were told those cameras were not working.
When deputies arrived on scene, alleged victim Eduardo was already gone, he had been taken to Palomar hospital by one of his many cousins who lived on the property with him.
Deputy Ricardo Carlon went to interview Eduardo in the hospital. The patient confirmed that Alma is his aunt, that she is married to a man named Jose, and this man Jose arranged for his worker Fabian Nunez to live on the property.
Eduardo said he came home from work that Monday about 4 p.m. and saw Fabian Nunez sitting in the courtyard with Jose. “They were drinking.”
Eduardo claimed of Nunez, “He started telling me things.” And, “He was very drunk.”
And then, “All of a sudden, I don’t know what happened, he just hit me.” He said Nunez punched him in the face.
Eduardo said he grabbed Nunez in a bear hug “because he came at me.” And, “He was drunk, it didn’t matter what I said to him. I just wanted him to calm down.” Eduardo said he “hugged” Nunez in a face-to-face bear-hug for a minute or so.
Eduardo said he released Nunez, and turned his back and was walking away when Nunez ran up and stabbed him from behind. Eduardo heard his cousins saying, “NO NO NO NO.”
(During the pre-trial hearing, defense attorney Alejandro Morales pointed out that Fabian Nunez is right-handed and Eduardo suffered a cut on his left side.)
Eduardo denied ever putting Nunez in a headlock at any time, when he testified in court seven months later, on June 3, 2021.
Eduardo was reportedly in the hospital for a few hours the day of the fight. Prosecutor Justin Stanek had evidence photos of Eduardo’s wound, it was closed by two metal staples.
Defense attorney Alejandro Morales characterized the wound as “superficial” and said the medical report declared it a “laceration on skin.”
Defense attorney Morales pointed out that defendant Fabian Nunez has no criminal record.
Nunez was held in custody two months after the November 2, 2020 incident, then he was released on his own recognizance in January 2021. Nunez has been at liberty, and he is working, and he came to court for each of his scheduled hearings, according to his attorney.
Although Fabian Nunez admitted using a knife during the fight, after the judge heard three hours of evidence at a pre-trial hearing, she reduced his felony assault charge to a misdemeanor.
Judge Amalia Meza spoke directly to Fabian Nunez, who was seated at the defense table. She warned him to never ever reach for a knife like that again. “Mister Nunez, never do that again! If you ever do that again, no other judge will exercise discretion.”