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Man found guilty of fatally stabbing girlfriend in the neck 19 times

Crime, Law and JusticeJustice System

A 27-year-old man was found guilty Monday of fatally stabbing his on-and-off girlfriend 19 times in her neck at a Studio City park.

A jury in a Van Nuys courtroom found Stephen Joanou Jr. of Burbank guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Patrina “Trina” Sabella, who was found dead on March 20, 2012, the Burbank Leader reported.

Sabella, 32, was discovered in the early-morning hours lying in a pool of blood behind a shed in South Weddington Park in the 10600 block of Valleyheart Drive in Studio City.

HOMICIDE REPORT: A story for every victim

Surveillance video showed Joanou and Sabella buying coffee at a 7-Eleven in Hollywood hours before she was found dead. Two coffee cups with traces of DNA from Joanou and Sabella were also discovered inside her car at the park.

Prosecutors also cited text messages the pair had sent each other that night, discussing plans to meet up.

Joanou's attorney, Christopher Chaney, had argued that although evidence showed his client was with Sabella that night, prosecutors had failed to provide a weapon and present blood evidence linking him to the crime scene.

He also claimed that the pair cared for each other and didn’t appear to be fighting the night Sabella was killed.

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veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA

Veronica Rocha is a Times Community News staff writer.

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