Suspect in Murder Stabs Codefendant, Deputies Say

Times Staff Writer

A jailed murder suspect who was scheduled to appear in court Friday repeatedly stabbed his codefendant in an underground holding cell at Fullerton's North Justice Center, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The inmate was taken to a hospital with superficial wounds to his back, neck and arms.

The attack occurred at 10:15 a.m. Friday, shortly after the prisoners had been taken to the courthouse from the Theo Lacy Branch Jail in Orange, according to Jon Fleischman, a sheriff's spokesman. Murder suspects Anthony Navarro, 35, and Armando Macias, 26, were awaiting a pretrial hearing when Macias stabbed Navarro with an unknown object at least 10 times, Fleischman said.

Deputies have been unable to find the weapon and believe it was flushed down a holding cell toilet, Fleischman said.

A deputy described Navarro's injuries as "10 superficial puncture wounds." Navarro and Macias are among seven codefendants charged in the murder-for-hire death of Buena Park businessman David Montemayor. The 44-year-old owner of a Compton trucking firm was shot to death Oct. 2 near his home. The victim's sister and a coworker have been charged with recruiting Pacoima gang members to kill Montemayor.

The stabbing remained under investigation Friday. One police official speculated that the attacker believed the victim was going to offer evidence against him in court, but the Orange County district attorney's office declined to comment on that possibility.

According to court records, investigators believe Deborah Ann Perna, 46, arranged for Navarro to kill her brother in August. In exchange for the murder, Perna told Navarro he could rob Montemayor and keep the cash. Police say Perna gave the dead man's address and phone number to a coworker, who passed it to Navarro. Navarro reportedly arranged for other gang members -- including Macias -- to kidnap Montemayor.

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