BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Homicide suspects are arraigned frequently at the Kern County Superior Court in Downtown Bakersfield. And while it happens, it’s not as often that supporters of the victim, and the suspect, get into emotional confrontations the day of the hearing.
That was the case for 20-year-old Jennifer Maldonado, who was in court Friday to be formally arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Angelina Marie Carmen Betz, 26. Her arraignment was continued so the Public Defender’s office could make sure there is not a conflict of interest in representing her.
Following the hearing, heated words were exchanged between the families and friends of both, but didn’t escalate further once they made it outside the courthouse. Betz’s sister, Hayley O’Connor, said she and her friends just want to see justice.
“I honestly hope Jennifer just gets what she deserves,” O’Connor said. She said that her sister did not have a direct connection with the woman accused of killing her. But court documents suggest the deadly fight was prompted over a man.
According to court documents, a witness told police he believed the two began fighting “over a relationship with a male.” The exact relationship isn’t detailed and the document is redacted.
The witness was a close friend of Maldonado’s and lived with her in the area of East 9th Street in Bakersfield. On May 21 he, Betz and others drove to Maldonado’s home so he could get money from her. But when Maldonado learned Betz was with him, she reportedly went outside and began fighting Betz, leading to the stabbing.
Another witness tried to drive Betz to a hospital but crashed at the intersection of Niles Street and Mount Vernon Avenue. Maldonado’s housemate told police he thought Betz was dead before they even got her into the car.
Magda Broekere, who said Betz was like a little sister to her, believes Maldonado will try to claim self-defense, but doesn’t deserve it because she never turned herself in after the stabbing.
“She shouldn’t have been out running around enjoying Thanksgiving, Christmas, her birthday,” Broekere said. She carried a sign with “Max Penalty,” written on the back of a “vision board” Betz had made in 2017. Vision boards are projects expressing someone’s future goals and dreams with images. Broekere said this was not the way Betz’s life was supposed to end.
Maldonado evaded police for months and bleached her hair between the stabbing and her arrest. U.S. Marshals took her into custody Jan. 20 on South Chester Avenue.
O’Connor said the community support, with many people sharing photos or wanted posters of Maldonado online, was “amazing” leading up to her arrest.
“I didn’t expect that many people to support, and share the photo and post as much as they did, and having them behind our backs and supporting us as much as they did really meant a lot, especially getting the word around,” said O’Connor.
Maldonado is due back in court Jan. 29.