CHINO — When Leopoldo Servin was killed here nearly five years ago, he was stabbed 28 times and badly mutilated before being left to die in an alley.
Roger Perchez, who lived in the same Chino apartment building as Servin, had been a suspect in the January 2005 killing since it occurred — he was even once arrested but released because investigators lacked physical evidence.
Perchez, 30, hadn’t appeared in court to face charges until this week, when he pleaded not guilty to murder in Chino Superior Court.
It remains unclear how investigators tied Perchez to the killing of Servin, 24, or what may have motivated the killing.
In a news release, a city spokeswoman said a witness came forward in June 2008 and led Chino investigators to the murder weapon, which was found in a drainage pipe.
A Chino police spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment today, and a prosecutor declined to discuss the facts of the case.
According to police reports attached to Perchez’s court file, at the time of Servin’s killing Servin and Perchez lived in the same apartment complex in the 13100 block of Ninth Street.
And a 10-page rap sheet attached to Perchez’s court file shows numerous arrests and convictions — for crimes such as burglary, battery, gang participation, possession of drugs for sale, rioting and a weapons violation.
In an interview today, the woman who contacted police after finding Servin in her alley recalled the night of Servin’s death in detail.
Less than two minutes before she discovered Servin, Mary Cantu, 65, said she heard a car in the alley beside her home in the 13450 block of Third Street.
After the car left, she said her dogs were unusually agitated and fixated on something outside.
Cantu said she looked outside her bedroom window and saw Servin leaning on a fence that separates the alley from her property.
Her initial thought was, “Oh it’s some borracho, a drunk,” she said. But Servin moved his body slightly and he was illuminated by a street light, and Cantu saw that he was covered in blood.
Cantu went outside to help Servin, and Servin was unable to speak to her.
He was pronounced dead after being transported to a local hospital.
Servin had suffered 18 stab wounds to the front of his body, 10 stab wounds to the back of his body, and numerous defensive wounds on his hands. His left eye had been gouged out, according to police reports.
He was never able to make a statement to police or paramedics prior to his death.
“It was sad the way they cut him all up and poked him,” Cantu said. “I’ve never seen that.”
Shortly after Servin’s killing, someone attached a bouquet of plastic flowers to the section of Cantu’s fence where she found Servin. The bouquet is still attached to the fence, and Servin said she sometimes cleans it.
Prior to the night of Servin’s death, Cantu’s longtime partner had quit smoking for 17 years. But the night he saw Servin, he asked a houseguest for a cigarette, Cantu said.
“That same night he started smoking, and he hasn’t stopped,” she said. “That put a lot of stress on him.”