Friday, August 17, 2007

A 6-year-old boy was hacked to death with a meat cleaver as his mother fought to save his life

Gregory W. Griggs:

Sev'n Molina, age 6, was hacked to death with a meat cleaver Sunday night, as his mother fought to save his life, terrified neighbors called 911 and the bravest among them tried to intervene in the grisly struggle.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Calvin Sharp, 27, and took him to Ventura County Jail, said Senior Sheriff's Deputy Julie Novak. Sharp, a self-employed cab driver, is expected to be charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder -- rare violent crimes in what regularly ranks as one of nation's safest large cities.

The harrowing attack at the Hillcrest Park Apartments began about 9:30 p.m. in the first-floor unit where the boy lived with his mother, Sandra Ruiz, 33. Sharp and Ruiz had been arguing, at least in part, about whether Sev'n spent too much time playing video games, neighbors said.

After the boy burst from the apartment into the communal courtyard, witnesses said, Sharp followed him, wielding the cleaver, and began hacking at the child's head and shouting, "Die, die!"

Neighbors Patrick Bowman, 21, and his girlfriend, Christina Kindred, 18, heard screams and ran to the courtyard, where they stumbled on the frightening scene: Ruiz yelling for someone, anyone, to grab her son. Sev'n sitting beside Sharp, bleeding. Sharp brandishing the cleaver.

"When I tried to grab the kid, that's when [Sharp] grabbed him and pulled him closer and started flailing that knife like crazy," Bowman said. "He pulled the kid closer to him and started to beat and hack him with the knife."

Bowman narrowly missed being slashed. Terrified, he and Kindred ran back to her apartment, where they dialed 911, then returned to the courtyard.

"When we ran upstairs, the kid was alive. When we got back out, the kid was dead," Bowman said Monday. "I feel horrible."

Ruiz tried to save her son, but Sharp allegedly turned the cleaver on her, cutting the woman repeatedly and nearly severing one of her hands.

At that point, an older woman who also lived in the complex ran outside and tackled the assailant, knocking the bloody weapon away and getting cut in the face.

As they struggled, another man ran out to help, and the two pinned Sharp down until police arrived and subdued him with a Taser gun.

The older woman "was a hero," said one neighbor, who did not want to be identified. Ruiz was so badly wounded in the attack that "you couldn't even tell what color her hair was, it was so bloody. It was horrid."

By the time neighbor Brad Baker, 37, heard screams and ran to see what was happening, the courtyard was filled with paramedics and law enforcement officers.

"It was very gruesome," Baker said. "I couldn't believe somebody could do this to a child when it's so much easier to walk away."

By late Monday, the Ventura County medical examiner's office reported that Sev'n had died from "sharp-force head injuries." Ruiz was listed in critical condition after surgery at Los Robles Regional Medical Center, spokeswoman Kris Carraway-Bowman said.

Ruiz was breathing with the help of a ventilator in the intensive care unit.

There is no fast track for the death penalty


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