Friday, December 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Jury acquits man in ’03 cold-case homicide retrial

By
From page A1 | February 28, 2013 |

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 — After more than two years in jail and two jury trials, a man accused of stabbing and killing a Fairfield woman in her home in 2003 was found not guilty Wednesday of murder charges.

After the verdicts were announced, Ricardo Cruz hugged his defense attorney and then his parents.

Cruz, 37, a Navy veteran, had no criminal record when he was arrested in 2010 at his home in Santa Rosa and charged with murder. His arrest came after cold-case investigators reopened the case, got a DNA sample from Cruz and matched it to a minute piece of flesh found under one of Kathryn Vitagliano’s fingernails.

Vitagliano, 55, was found dead on the living room of her Robin Drive home on the night of Nov. 26, 2003, a few feet from a Christmas tree. A homemade pumpkin pie she had been baking for Thanksgiving the next day was still in the oven. The recently retired psychiatric technician from Napa State Hospital was face down in a pool of blood and had been stabbed nearly a dozen times.

Cruz is an ex-boyfriend of one of Vitagliano’s adult daughters. He had been at the home a few weeks before the killing prompting his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Tommy Barrett, to argue his client’s DNA may have ended up under Vitagliano’s fingernail because he may have been typing on her computer or may have sneezed on a mirror in the home.

Another murder trial for Cruz ended last year with a deadlocked jury splitting 8-4 in favor of acquittal.

Cruz did not testify at either trial. Before his arrest, he told investigators he had been home alone sick in bed at the time of Vitagliano’s death.

After jurors left the courtroom, Judge Peter B. Foor ordered Cruz to pay $80,000 to the Public Defender’s Office for its costs. Barrett objected to Foor’s imposition of the fees. The matter will be considered further at an April 2 hearing.

Cruz was ordered released from custody. Before the start of the retrial, the ex-girlfriend went to court and obtained a restraining order against Cruz.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or jsullivan@dailyrepublic.net. 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.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 7 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • JusticeFebruary 28, 2013 - 7:34 am

    I do not know anything more than what was printed in the newspaper. The fact that he was found not guilty is what our justice system is all about. However, for the Judge Foor to access him $80k for the PD office is appalling at the minimum. This judge is not thinking right. He should drop that claim and hope this guy does not sue for millions for wrongful prosecution which If I was on the jury, would vote to give him millions! The nerve of this judge and in our next election, I will remember this nonsense amount.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ConfusedFebruary 28, 2013 - 9:37 am

    What The???? Are you serious Judge? Didn't this guy go through enough!? I read all the accoounts of this on Daily Republic AND The Reporter and everyone EXCEPT for this (must be) AWESOME Public Defender rakes the guy over the coals-AND-The Public Defender Objects to the payment!!! This judge obviously is biased and wanted him found guilty. Thankfully, a GREAT Public Defender (gosh they DO exist!), and a jury-OF HIS PEERS-believed in this Navy Veteran. This guy Cruz should sue the county for that same money-80K- AND millions more for 2 and a half years of his life, reputation, personal and professional scars that may never heal. That judge is CRAZY!!!!!!!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • offendedFebruary 28, 2013 - 5:38 pm

    I would ask that you refrain from referring to this guy as Cruz. I know its his last name but it is also mine and several million other people on here and we don't want him simply identified as "CRUZ" because that may reflect on us.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • smhFebruary 28, 2013 - 6:48 pm

    Lol... let me get this straight. Just because someone called him by his last name you got offended? Get a thicker skin... This guy has gone through enough. For the Judge to request payment of $80,000 is just ridiculous. Collect the money after he sues the county for millions...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ...February 28, 2013 - 9:37 pm

    That must have been one minute piece of flesh. I don't generally see bits of me fall off when I type, nor do I see bits of me land on a mirror when I sneeze, because I simply do not sneeze on mirrors. I certainly he is innocent. If not, shame on the jurors. If so, good job justice system.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ...February 28, 2013 - 9:38 pm

    That must have been one minute piece of flesh. I don't generally see bits of me fall off when I type, nor do I see bits of me land on a mirror when I sneeze, because I simply do not sneeze on mirrors. I certainly hope he is innocent. If not, shame on the jurors. If so, good job justice system.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Former JurorMarch 02, 2013 - 12:32 am

    As a juror on the previous trial, I can tell you we never questioned if the DNA under the victim's fingernail was Cruz's. The science was solid and most of us never had any doubts about that at all. Nor did we seriously question whether Gallegos' DNA could have been present as well, masked by the profiles of the victim and the defendant. That was 'smoke and mirrors' for the most part, as Gallegos wasn't the one on trial, though that was hard to remember at times. The ONLY question (for 8 of us) was "Is it reasonable to believe that the DNA got there some other way than during the attack?" The case for 'secondary transfer' was very strong, and many of us felt that the miniscule amount of genetic material (4 nanograms according to the DOJ evidence tech at the time of the first trial) easily could have been picked up from the computer keyboard that the defendant touched just a week or two before the crime... or from the 'cookies and cola' that the victim's daughter got from the suspect just the day before. A suspect who was, by the way, documented by an ER doctor to have been conjested and phlegmy with bronchitis. So to the commentor above, yes it was an EXTREMELY small bit of flesh - too small to really even be called a 'bit of flesh' - at least in the former trial, it was referred to only as 'genetic material.' It was testified that a gram is about the size of a quarter of a sugar cube and a nanogram is ONE BILLIONTH of a gram! We even asked, and received clarification from the Prosecutor's forensic witness, the amount was so small, he couldn't say what the foreign DNA was suspended in. (We wanted to know if it was mixed with the victim's own blood as that would give us a hint as to when it got there.) To another commentor above, yes, the Public Defender was amazing. He renewed my faith in the US Justice System. Not to say that the Prosecutor did a bad job, she was passionate and determined, but we just could not get around the fact that the ONLY evidence against Ricardo Cruz was literally a microscopic speck.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
     
    Sondheim’s ‘Woods’ holiday showcase for Missouri Street Theatre

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings play role in civic life

    By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Frankye Kelly ready to spread holiday cheer

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

    Celebrate the magic of Christmas

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

     
     
    Safe streets task force work nets 3

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

    Santas have busy week at schools

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Longtime Suisun harbor master to retire

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

    Mosquito abatement district board has opening

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

     
     
    Solano College approves officers, meeting schedule

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

     
    Fairfield police log: Dec. 17, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Suisun City police log: Dec. 17, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    Police arrest 2nd suspect in Fairfield credit union robbery

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    US / World

    Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Sony film took aim at North Korea’s biggest taboo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Rubio, other Congressional Cubans step up Obama criticism

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Spy’s parents search for son after Cuba-US deal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    California’s top utility regulator defends record

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    ‘Pretty horrible’ scene; car slams into crowd

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    San Francisco Bay Bridge fasteners not in danger of failing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Police: Drunk man shot while entering wrong house

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    CHP, Oakland in tiff over plainclothes officers at protests

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Local emergencies in Northern California counties after rain

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    President signs legislation ending Nazi benefit checks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    2 states challenge Colorado marijuana legalization

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

     
    ‘Prison Houdini’ set to make his 1st legal escape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

    Top Islamic militants killed; more US troops going to Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

     
    Feds sue NYC over Rikers Island jail violence

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

    Russian sailors leaving France without warship

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    Putin: West wants to defang, declaw Russian bear

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185 in Nigeria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    European court rules obesity can be a disability

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    .

    Opinion

     
    America’s response to the torture report shameful

    By Clive Crook | From Page: A11

    Another look at school bonds

    By George Guynn Jr. | From Page: A11

     
    Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 19, 2014

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

    News of the day strikes a chord

    By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Dec. 19, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Dec. 19, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Dec. 19, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D8

     
    Should I use Child Protective Services threat to get back rent?

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D8

    .

    Entertainment

    Week in preview Dec. 19-25, 2014

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
    Sweet ‘Night at the Museum’ bids farewell to Robin Williams

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Review: ‘The Hobbit’ wraps with a Middle Earth melee

    By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Craig Ferguson to end 10 years as host of ‘Late Late Show’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Eric Idle brings ‘Not the Messiah’ to Carnegie Hall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Entertainment calendar Dec. 19, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

    .

    Sports

     
    Warriors beat Thunder 114-109 after Durant injury

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    A’s acquire lefty De La Rosa from Arizona for cash

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Raiders defense depleted by injuries

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    49ers’ Harbaugh mum on reported offer from Michigan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    49ers’ Aldon Smith hopes to build off tough year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    A’s trade All-Star catcher Derek Norris to Padres

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Rodriguez boys open Les Curry Tournament with victory

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

    39 bowl games and a reason to watch every one

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Column: Thaw in US-Cuba relations warms up MLB

    By Jim Litke | From Page: B8

    Rivera: Newton ‘probably’ will start vs. Browns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Bears bench QB Jay Cutler for Clausen

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    ‘Hands Up’ players to attend Ferguson Christmas party

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Celtics trade Rondo to Mavericks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Signups for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

     
    This date in sports history for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B11

     
    .

    Business

    Roomiest Subaru Legacy debuts for 2015

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

     
    Dow industrials have their best day in three years

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Ford expands drivers air bag recall nationwide

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    Constantly changing online prices stump shoppers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    .

    Obituaries

    Dominic C. Scolaro

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Travis Curt Price

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Jennie Ponce Reyes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Lisa Dee McHughes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics