BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man was found guilty Tuesday of fatally stabbing a man at a motel and, months later, of brandishing a knife at security guards during a robbery at Valley Plaza mall.
The jury convicted Jose Luis Valdez Esparza, 23, of second-degree murder and robbery. He faces 21 years to life in prison.
Police were dispatched on Dec. 6, 2020, to the Motel 6 on Easton Avenue, where they found Corey Wayne Thomas, 28, suffering from multiple stab wounds. Thomas was pronounced dead at Kern Medical.
Video surveillance showed Esparza try to take property from Thomas, according to prosecutors. They fought and Esparza stabbed Thomas four times.
On March 16, 2021, officers were called to the J.C. Penney at Valley Plaza mall where a suspect identified as Esparza stole merchandise and, confronted by security guards, brandished a knife to get away, prosecutors said.
Esparza was arrested at Wilson Park just east of the mall.
Sentencing is set for Nov. 16.