Attorneys argue Blue shared victim’s home, committed no crime in burglary, murder case
It was just a woman going to her own home to retrieve her own property, not a burglary during a murder, said defense attorneys Friday, making a case against the murder charges filed Thursday against Jennifer Blue and two men in the Nov. 17 stabbi...
It was just a woman going to her own home to retrieve her own property, not a burglary during a murder, said defense attorneys Friday, making a case against the murder charges filed Thursday against Jennifer Blue and two men in the Nov. 17 stabbing death of her ex-boyfriend.
Meanwhile, the third man with them, Joe Ramon “J.R.” Saucedo, 22, was the only man who stabbed Ruben Cisneros Jr., and it was a gang rivalry issue between those two, defense attorneys emphasized while cross-examining two law enforcement officers testifying for the prosecution at a probable cause hearing.
Those were only some of the new details that emerged Friday during a four-hour preliminary hearing for Blue, 23, Vincent Gladue, 24, and Thomas Begg, 23.
Saucedo was charged Nov. 19 with Cisneros’ murder and burglarizing his home. Blue, Gladue and Begg were charged at the time only with burglary.
But this week, Carmell Mattison, assistant state’s attorney for Grand Forks County, added murder charges for those three, alleging Cisneros was killed during the burglary, so Blue, Gladue and Begg are just as guilty of his murder as is Saucedo, under state law.
Saucedo waived his right to a preliminary hearing and didn’t appear Friday.
The other three did appear as Mattison made her case that there is probable cause for the murder charges to proceed. Her only witnesses were Sgt. Dan Hillebrand and Deputy Delicia Glaze of the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department, key investigators of the case.
Blue’s attorney Blake Hankey, Begg’s attorney Ted Sandberg and Gladue’s attorney Rhiannon Goreham shared the same table and the cross-examination of the two witnesses before Judicial Referee David Vigeland in state district court.
Blue had lived with Cisneros in the house about six miles northwest of Grand Forks from about March 2013 until the first week in November, although she would move in and out after Aug. 1, Hillebrand said.
About 12:30 a.m., Nov. 17, Blue, Saucedo, Gladue, Begg and Blue’s 16-year-old sister drove in a Ford pickup to Cisneros’ home to get her clothes. Gladue kicked in the door, and he and Begg and Saucedo confronted Cisneros, 33, and his younger brother, Joel.
Within a few minutes, the five were driving back to East Grand Forks in the pickup and two Honda Accords Blue considered her property, although Cisneros was the owner of record.
Cisneros was dying of stab wounds.
Blue, Saucedo, Gladue and Begg were in custody within hours of the incident and talking about it to investigators, Hillebrand and Glaze said.
Several witnesses said Saucedo stabbed Cisneros.
The big question Friday was whether Blue, Gladue and Begg shared any guilt in Cisneros’ if there was no burglary.
Hankey asked Hillebrand and Glaze if there wasn’t evidence Blue still should be considered a resident of the house and was just taking along friends to help her pick up her own things, including her clothes and a car she had used many times.
Hankey elicited testimony that in several months of their “on-again, off-again,” relationship, Blue and Cisneros were “dating,” as recently as the morning of Nov. 16, only hours before the stabbing.
Sandberg, on Begg’s behalf, asked Glaze: “Is it against the law to kick in the door of my own house?”
He then asked about bringing along a friend, said Hankey, to kick in his door for him. Is that illegal?
Mattison objected, saying the hypothetical scenarios were far afield and irrelevant to the case.
But Sandberg shot back: “This is the crux of the case. This is the case.”
Vigeland allowed Sandberg some more time to make his point that Begg only was along to help Blue retrieve her property from her home.
The preliminary hearing will be completed Monday. All four defendants are slated to be arraigned Tuesday on the murder charges that could put them in prison for life, as well as the burglary counts.
Also made public for the first time Friday in the case:
- About three hours before the incident Nov. 17, Blue and Cisneros exchanged text messages, Hillebrand said. The last exchange was, from Blue: “Just drop my clothes off,” followed seconds later from Cisneros: “I want my money first.”
- Hillebrand said Cisneros’ autopsy found 11 stab wounds, including a deep one into his heart, one into his liver, a deep gash across his mouth and chin and six defensive ones on his arms.
- Blue’s 16-year-old sister text-messaged someone while she sat in the pickup, watching Cisneros get stabbed by the Ford’s headlights.
“They are fighting. … Help me. … They stabbed him. … Please. … They stabbed him,” she wrote in a quick series of text messages, Hillebrand testified, reading from a transcript.
The girl said she saw Saucedo take a knife out of his left pocket and stab Cisneros “about six times,” including once in the face, Glaze said. Cisneros then fell to the ground and Saucedo bent over him, said “You got schooled,” and stabbed him in the chest.
That line apparently was in response to Cisneros earlier telling Saucedo to “come out here and I will school you,” Glaze said under cross-examination from Hankey, who pressed her about whether the stabbing was a gang rivalry between only Cisneros and Saucedo.
- Begg said Saucedo told him he better not “snitch,” and had him pull off the road so Saucedo could throw his bloody knife into a dumpster before they returned to their room in the East Grand Inn.
Hillebrand said a few hours after the stabbing, a false 911 call reporting shots fired and people injured was made about 6:30 a.m., Nov. 17 from the East Grand Forks Hugo’s store.
Security cameras at Hugo’s showed Blue made the 911 call, with Saucedo standing next to her, Hillebrand said.
- Hankey also asked the deputies about the history of domestic violence between Cisneros and Blue.
Law enforcement had been called to Cisneros’ home “a handful” of times over suspected domestic disturbance between him and Blue, and Blue’s relatives said Cisneros hit her and threatened to kill her and cut her head off, according to statements in court.
Didn’t Saucedo call Blue’s mother shortly after the stabbing and apologize for getting “your daughter into this position, but I can’t stand to see a woman get beat up,” and “I did what I had to do,” Hankey asked Glaze, who said yes.