August 27, 2010
Orange County District Attorney's Office
SANTA ANA - A man was sentenced today to 16 years to life in state prison for stabbing and murdering an acquaintance in a park after an argument over who was a better singer. Julian Sermano, 58, San Juan Capistrano, was found guilty by a jury June 23, 2010, of one felony count of second degree murder, one felony count of aggravated assault, and a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon.
Co-defendant Maurico Molina, 34, San Juan Capistrano, pleaded guilty Sept. 4, 2009, to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. He was sentenced May 21, 2010, to 11 years in state prison. Molina testified in Sermano's jury trial.
At approximately 9:30 p.m. on June 6, 2007, Sermano was in San Juan Capistrano Park off Ortega Highway with acquaintances Molina and Blas Gutierrez, 39. The defendant was drinking in the park with his two companions as the three sat singing.
Sermano became angry and got into an argument with Gutierrez, who complained about Sermano's singing and boasted that he was a better singer. The defendant got into a physical fight with Gutierrez, which Molina attempted to break up. Molina began fighting with Gutierrez, pulled out a pocket knife, and stabbed the victim twice.
While Molina and Gutierrez were fighting, Sermano took out a knife and attempted to stab the victim, but missed and inadvertently stabbed Molina instead. When Molina fell to the ground, Sermano again turned on Gutierrez and repeatedly stabbed him after chasing him through the park.
Molina called 911 to receive help for his stab wound. Responding paramedics discovered Gutierrez nearby. Gutierrez and Molina were both transported to Mission Hospital. Gutierrez was pronounced dead minutes after arriving at the hospital, suffering from multiple stab wounds to his chest and stomach. Molina was hospitalized for several days for a lacerated liver from being stabbed.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.