BAKESFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Cody Joyave told detectives he went to a convenience store early May 20 to buy Gatorade for his girlfriend. When he arrived back home, he said, she was lying dead in a pool of blood.

Detectives, however, noticed Joyave, who wore a tank top, had scratches visible on his chest and arms. And the clerk at the am/pm Joyave claimed he visited, examined a photo of the 23-year-old and told deputies he hadn’t been in.

As the interview continued, Joyave said he and Lupe Melendrez, 22, argued over money and got in a fight that ended with him disarming her of a knife and stabbing her, according to newly-released court documents.

“I stabbed her throat because I was just acting in self-defense,” Joyave said according to the documents. “I didn’t know how else to act.”

Joyave has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and is held in jail without bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled June 10.

Melendrez was found dead inside the Oildale home she shared with Joyave in the 3600 block of Pine Meadow Drive, sheriff’s officials said. They were called there by Joyave, who reported a possible suicide attempt, the documents say.

The body was located in the bedroom. Melendrez had at least one deep cut to her neck, the documents say.

Melendrez’s mother told detectives her daughter and Joyave had dated since the eighth grade but had hit a rough patch, and her daughter planned to move back home.

About a month earlier, Melendrez threatened to leave Joyave and he responded with an apparent suicide attempt by overdosing on prescription medications, the mother said according to the documents. She said Joyave had his stomach pumped and was placed on a mental evaluation hold.

During his interview at sheriff’s headquarters, Joyave said the last year of his and Melendrez’s relationship was “a little rocky,” according to the documents. They had more than $25,000 in credit card debt and he had lost his job.

That morning, Joyave told detectives, Melendrez started an argument, telling him she didn’t trust him and he was making their situation worse.

She left the bedroom and returned armed with the knife and “that’s when I grabbed her wrist to try to stop her from coming at me with it . . .,” Joyave said according to the documents.

He knocked the knife loose by banging her hand against the wall, Joyave told detectives. Then he picked it up and stabbed her.

Joyave said he didn’t try to get away from Melendrez after disarming her, according to the documents. He acknowledged being stronger than her, and to stabbing her while she was unarmed.

Asked how he felt afterward, Joyave said he was filled with regret, the documents say.

“I wish I thought of a different way to handle it,” he told detectives.