By PAUL ANDERSON
City News Service
A 30-year-old man who repeatedly stabbed his grandmother in Los Alamitos five years ago, in front of his 8-year-old brother and 3-year-old niece, was convicted today of second-degree murder, arson and child abuse.
After stabbing the woman on Jan. 19, 2009, Joseph Elija Ettima threatened the children to get them to help burn the body.
A second phase of trial will begin Monday for jurors to determine if Ettima was insane at the time of the attack.
Ettima killed 69-year-old Emma Louise Hardwick-Street in an apartment at 3671 Farquhar Ave., Senior Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste said.
Ettima's 8-year-old brother, Matthew Williams, was getting ready to watch his favorite TV show and pouring himself a bowl of cereal when he heard a “blood-curdling” scream, Balleste told jurors.
The boy found Ettima in the bathroom over the victim, repeatedly stabbing her as the 3-year-old niece watched, Balleste said. The victim was stabbed 15 times, she said.
Threatening to kill the boy and girl, the defendant “ordered” Matthew to help him gather clothes, brooms and other flammable material to pile on top of Hardwick-Street's body, which Ettima moved to her bed, Balleste said.
When the girl began crying, Ettima allegedly threatened to kill both children if Matthew didn't get her to stop, then “ordered Matthew to strike a match and throw it on his own grandmother,” Balleste said.
As Ettima fled the burning apartment, the boy took the girl and went to a neighbor for help, the prosecutor said.
Before the stabbing, the defendant argued with his grandmother when she refused to let him move in, according to the prosecution.
A friend drove Ettima to the Mexican border after the attack. He was arrested in Mexico in April 2009 and attempted to escape from the custody of a U.S. Marshal at the Mexico City airport, Balleste said.
--City News Service