Fairfield cold-case trial in hands of jury

By From page A1 | September 08, 2012

Ricardo Cruz is shown in April 2011 in Solano County Superior Court.

Ricardo Cruz is shown in April 2011 in Solano County Superior Court.

FAIRFIELD — Jurors began deliberating the fate of a Santa Rosa man who faces a murder charge for the 2003 stabbing death of a Fairfield mother killed while she was fixing the family Thanksgiving dinner alone at her Robin Drive home.

Ricardo Cruz was arrested in 2011 after the cold case homicide was reopened and investigators discovered a match between Cruz’s DNA and the DNA found under Kathryn Vitagliano’s fingernails. Cruz was a former boyfriend of one of Vitagliano’s adult daughters, who lived with her mom.

Before deliberations got under way, Cruz’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Tommy Barrett, made one final attempt to convince jurors that the real killer was an ex-boyfriend of Vitagliano who had not seen her since their relationship ended in 1993 — more than a decade before the murder. The ex-boyfriend had been investigators’ only suspect until his DNA sample was obtained in 2009. It did not match the fingernail DNA and he was ruled out as a suspect.

Prosecutor Krishna Abrams used the term “red herring” four times as she blasted Barrett’s effort to present the long-ago boyfriend as the real killer.

Abrams focused much of her closing argument on the importance of the DNA match.

Cruz, who did not testify during his four-week trial, told police that he was home sick in bed and slept all day on the day of the murder.

Jurors are set to resume their deliberations Monday.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

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