A 23-year-old man accused of killing four members of a South Whittier family had been rejected by the daughter when he asked her out and had argued with her stepfather, with whom he worked, according to testimony Thursday.
Maritza Trejo, 21, was the first witness in the preliminary hearing for Alfonso Ignacio Morales, a former security guard accused of stabbing her family to death in July.
More than a week before the killings, she testified, she had refused to go out with him. When he insisted, she said maybe.
But, she testified, she then stayed in her room when he was at her house so he couldn’t ask her out again.
Trejo also testified that days before the slayings, her stepfather had told her that Morales, who helped him fix computers, would not come to the house anymore.
The two men, Trejo said, had had a falling out over Morales’ unspecified debt to her stepfather.
Prosecutors allege that Morales killed Trejo’s stepfather, Mike Ruiz, 38; her mother, also named Maritza Trejo, 41; her sister, Jasmin, 8; and Ruiz’s grandmother, Ana Luisa Martinez, 79.
Morales also is accused of sexually assaulting Jasmin. He could face the death penalty.
The bodies of the three adults were found in one bedroom of the house in the 10200 block of Gunn Avenue.
Jasmin’s body was found in the bathtub.
Trejo testified that when she and her aunt, Kenelly Zeledon, arrived at the house, she went in first and saw splattered blood.
She rushed outside to open the front door for Zeledon.
“I was still hoping that was not their blood,” she said.
Inside the house, she said, she heard Zeledon scream, “No, this is not true!”
Then, Trejo said, “I understood that they were gone.”
Other witnesses Thursday included Sheriff’s Department homicide investigators.
Prosecutors say that about 500 pieces of physical evidence were gathered from the crime scene and from Morales’ house, which is just around the corner.
Among them were knives and a shoe that matched the footprints in the family’s home.
Morales’ stepfather, Jerry Rodriguez, testified that weeks after the killings, he found two boxes containing incriminating evidence behind his house.
Rodriguez said he considered hiding them but decided to turn them in to investigators.
“I just thought, ‘What if I left it alone or buried it,’ ” he said. “But eventually it would come up.”
Times staff writer Akilah Johnson contributed to this report.