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Prosecutors to seek severe sentence against Willmar stabbing suspect, citing ‘cruelty’

WILLMAR –– The Kandiyohi County Attorney’s office has notified the Eighth Judicial District Court that it intends to seek an aggravated sentencing for a suspect who allegedly stabbed his stepgrandmother earlier this summer in Willmar.

In documents filed Friday, Assistant County Attorney Kristen Pierce said the “upward departure” from the presumptive sentence under state guidelines would be sought because the victim was treated with “particular cruelty.”

Ex-Savor Rene Cruz, 19, faces three felony charges — including attempted murder in the second degree — in the June 26 stabbing of his 64-year-old stepgrandmother, Maria Garcia.

The criminal complaint was amended in July to include the attempted murder charge. He also is charged with first-degree assault – great bodily harm and second-degree assault.

A pretrial hearing was held Monday and a jury trial is set for Oct. 6.

Pierce said the attack happened in the victim’s own home, where she expected to feel secure.

In stating reasons for seeking the more severe sentence, the County Attorney’s office said Garcia suffered stab wounds to the neck and shoulder as she was lying in bed and that Cruz allegedly stomped on the back of Garcia’s head. When she tried to leave the house, Cruz grabbed her by the hair and pulled her back in, while threatening to kill her.

He allegedly struck Garcia in the head with a cast iron frying pan. As she lay unconscious on the floor, Cruz allegedly covered her with a blanket that was also draped over the lit kitchen stove.

Garcia woke up to flames, according to the County Attorney’s document.

Garcia made her way across the street to the home of a neighbor who called law enforcement at 8:12 a.m. that day. The complaint states that officers found Garcia and another woman holding a bloody towel to Garcia’s neck. The complaint states that Garcia told the neighbor that she had been stabbed by her stepgrandson, Cruz.

Law enforcement entered Garcia’s resident but Cruz was not there. Law enforcement later executed a search warrant at the home of Cruz’s mother. Cruz was located in the upper apartment of the residence and taken into custody.

The complaint states that the assault appeared to have occurred in the kitchen on the main floor of the residence. The complaint states a blood trail led from the kitchen to the living room and out the front door to the neighbor’s residence. A cast iron frying pan and a knife blade were found in the kitchen.




Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750