Orange County prosecutors on Monday dismissed a murder charge against a woman who authorities say was assaulted by the man she fatally stabbed in 2017.
Amber Angelovic, 24, had been facing a felony count of murder and a possible sentencing enhancement for personal use of a weapon in the stabbing death of 32-year-old Derek Valentine inside his Costa Mesa home in March 2017.
But prosecutors said Tuesday that evidence discovered during the investigation revealed that Angelovic was acting in self-defense when she stabbed Valentine. In light of the new evidence, Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Heather Brown appeared in court this week to request that a judge dismiss the charge against Angelovic.
“The people have obtained additional evidence and are now convinced Ms. Angelovic had a lawful right to self-defense and therefore are unable to proceed,” Brown said in a news release, adding that the motion to dismiss was made based on a “lack of sufficient evidence and in the interest of justice.”
Angelovic’s defense attorney, John Barnett, told The Times on Tuesday that he does not have a comment about the case but said his client is “very relieved that this ordeal is over.”
After a night of drinking at a local bar on March 11, 2017, Angelovic and Valentine took an Uber to Valentine’s condominium on Shasta Lane. The two had been on one date before that night, prosecutors say.
About 5:30 a.m., Angelovic called 911 from Valentine’s bedroom to report that Valentine had tried to prevent her from leaving and had hit her in the face and thrown her to the ground. Fearing that she would be raped or killed, Angelovic grabbed a knife that she carried with her for personal protection and engaged in a drill she learned in a self-defense class, prosecutors said.
Police found Valentine dead at the bottom of the stairs near the front door of his condo with two stab wounds to his chest.
At the time, then-Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy filed a motion in court to allow prosecutors to take photos of any bruising or injuries on Angelovic’s body that were either “consistent or inconsistent” with her statements to officers that Valentine attacked her.
Murphy wrote in the filing there were “no significant visible marks or injuries on her face or body at the time of her initial statements.”
However, when authorities searched Valentine’s home and electronic devices, they found drug paraphernalia, books on how to get women to have sex, a whiteboard with handwritten notes about how to stalk women and numerous text messages in which he denigrated women and discussed overcoming women’s reluctance to have sex. A search of his computer also revealed internet searches for date rape drugs, prosecutors said.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said a review of all the evidence in the case revealed there was insufficient evidence to prove murder to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
“After going through all the facts of the case, there’s no doubt in my mind the defense of self-defense would have resulted in an acquittal,” Spitzer said in an interview Tuesday. “We have a duty not to prosecute this case. Just because we file charges doesn’t mean we stop looking at additional evidence all the way through the trial.”