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Conviction upheld in sword killing

OW Staff Writer | 6/2/2016, midnight
A state appeals court panel this week upheld a man’s conviction for murdering his live-in girlfriend with a sword in ...

A state appeals court panel this week upheld a man’s conviction for murdering his live-in girlfriend with a sword in front of her four children in Lancaster.

A three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support Jesus Humberto Canales’ first-degree murder conviction for the July 12, 2008 stabbing death of Lucy Preciado. Canales is serving a 36-years-to-life sentence in state prison.

In a 16-page ruling, the appellate court justices found that the evidence “supports an inference of long-term planning activity and targeting of Lucy,” noting that the two had argued for a lengthy period the night the 26- year-old woman was killed.

“With Canales looming above her, Lucy warned Canales that he would regret it, giving him additional time to make the ‘cold, calculated judgment’ to strike her face and then lift the sword above his head and stab her in the chest and back,” the panel wrote. “Canales testified that he was under the influence of methamphetamine and didn’t know what he was doing when he retrieved the sword and killed Lucy, but the jury was entitled not to believe his testimony.”

The appellate court justices also found that “the two stab wounds inflicted from above are consistent with a deliberate slaying rather than an indiscriminate frenzy, and evince a calculated and deliberate design to kill.”

“... Further, Canales’ behavior after he stabbed Lucy was not consistent with horror, emotion or remorse, and does not suggest a lack of a plan to kill,” the panel added, noting that he paused only to get his wallet and push the woman’s 9-year-old daughter onto the couch before driving away and leaving the children to “call 911, pull the sword out of Lucy’s back, and deal with the sheriff’s and paramedics.”

Along with murder, jurors convicted Canales of four counts of child abuse involving the children, who were between 7 months old and 9 years old at the time.

The children—three of whom the couple had together—were left unattended at the scene with their dying mother, according to Deputy District Attorney Seth Carmack, who prosecuted Canales.

Preciado’s then-9-year-old daughter called 911 to plead for help for her mother, telling a 911 operator that she didn’t want her mom to die.

Canales was subsequently profiled on the television show “America’s Most Wanted: America Fights Back.”

The El Salvador native managed to elude capture until homicide detectives developed information that he might be in a small town in the Jalisco, Mexico, area. He was detained in November 2013 by Mexican authorities, handed over to the U.S. Marshals Service, flown back to Los Angeles County and tried last year in a Lancaster courtroom.