A 27-year-old Burbank man was found guilty Monday afternoon of fatally stabbing his on-and-off girlfriend 19 times in her neck at a park.
A jury in a Van Nuys courtroom found Stephen Joanou Jr. guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Patrina “Trina” Sabella, who was found dead on March 20, 2012.
They also found true that he personally used a weapon to kill Sabella.
in the case.
Sabella, 32, was discovered in the early morning hours lying in a pool of her blood behind a shed in South Weddington Park in the 10600 block of Valleyheart Drive in Studio City.
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 discovered inside her car at the park.
Investigators also collected text messages that the pair had sent each other that night, discussing plans to meet up.
Despite the evidence, Joanou reportedly denied seeing Sabella that night.
Joanou's attorney, Christopher Chaney, had argued that while evidence showed his client was with Sabella that night,
to link him to the crime scene.
He claimed the pair cared for each other and didn’t appear to be fighting.
Still, prosecutor Sharon Ransom said the evidence against Joanou was indisputable.
Joanou is scheduled to be sentenced May 8 in Van Nuys.