Victim’s ex-boyfriend testifies in Fairfield murder trial

By From page A3 | February 15, 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 — An Oregon man dubbed “the real killer” by the defense attorney for another man on trial for murder took the witness stand Thursday.

Ricardo Cruz is accused of attacking and fatally stabbing Kathryn Vitagliano as she prepared the family Thanksgiving dinner alone at her Robin Drive home in 2003. Cruz, an ex-boyfriend of one of Vitagliano’s adult daughters, was arrested in 2011 after his DNA was matched to a minute bit of flesh found under one of Vitagliano’s fingernails.

A four-week jury trial last year for Cruz ended with a deadlocked jury. At that trial Cruz’s attorney, Tommy Barrett, relied heavily on accusing an ex-boyfriend of Vitagliano, Juan P. Gallego, of driving from Oregon and killing Vitagliano before hurriedly driving home.

Gallego dated Vitagliano in a sometimes-stormy relationship for a few years until they broke up in 1993.

During the first trial, Gallego refused to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights. This time Gallego, 68 and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, waited until he was given a grant of immunity against prosecution before testifying.

The focus of much of Barrett’s questioning revolved around what Gallego told Fairfield police investigators when they showed up at his doorstep in Oregon seven months after Vitagliano’s death.

Gallego repeatedly responded to questions put to him by Barrett about events in 2003 and 2004 with “I can’t remember.”

By the afternoon, Barrett and prosecutor Terry Ray opted to play a tape recording of the hourlong interview. In the recording, Gallego sounded surprised, unstressed and willing to answer all questions put to him by the detectives.

The trial is schedule to continue Friday morning in the courtroom of Judge Peter B. Foor.

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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