Stab­bing sus­pect was freed from prison four months ago

The Idaho Statesman - - Front Page - BY RUTH BROWN AND KATY MOELLER rbrown@ida­hostates­man.com kmoeller@ida­hostates­man.com

The man ac­cused of stab­bing a stranger in the face, hands and neck mul­ti­ple times on Wed­nes­day was re­leased from prison only four months ago. Ruben Diaz still had 19 years to go be­fore he would have fin­ished serv­ing his pa­role for pre­vi­ous vi­o­lence.

Diaz, 36, re­mains in the Ada County Jail on sus­pi­cion of stab­bing a 74-year-old man in South­east Boise, ac­cord­ing to Boise po­lice. He has been charged with at­tempted mur­der, and his bond has been set at $1 mil­lion.

The vic­tim was still hos­pi­tal­ized on Fri­day. His fam­ily set up a Go­FundMe page to re­quest help with his med­i­cal bills.

“Ma­jor ten­don and nerve dam­age to (the vic­tim’s) hands and fin­gers took place while fran­ti­cally try­ing to shield the knife at­tacks from his face and neck,” the Go­FundMe states. “He was un­able to block all of the strikes to his face, the worst be­ing a blow to his right cheek that sev­ered the fa­cial nerve to his mouth, lim­it­ing his fa­cial move­ments on that side.”

Diaz was ar­raigned Fri­day and

has been ap­pointed a pub­lic de­fender, ac­cord­ing to a record­ing of the hear­ing. Mag­is­trate Judge Karen Vehlow or­dered a psy­cho­log­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion to de­ter­mine his fit­ness for trial dur­ing the court ap­pear­ance.

Vehlow also granted a no­con­tact or­der stip­u­lat­ing Diaz must stay 500 feet away from the vic­tim and the vic­tim’s ad­dress.

WHAT HAP­PENED?

The al­leged as­sault oc­curred just be­fore 11 a.m. in the 3900 block of Pre­am­ble Place.

Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Tam­era Kelly on Fri­day said the vic­tim was out­side his home rak­ing leaves. Diaz asked the vic­tim for direc­tions, she said, and “right af­ter that started stab­bing and slash­ing the vic­tim’s head and face mul­ti­ple times.”

Diaz later ad­mit­ted to law en­force­ment that he had bought the knife that morn­ing “for the sole pur­pose of try­ing to kill some­one,” Kelly said.

Hai­ley Chavez, a nanny at a house nearby, heard yelling and looked out a win­dow and saw the two men and the al­ter­ca­tion that en­sued. One seemed to be try­ing to get away from the other, try­ing to shove him away, she said. She said she heard the vic­tim call out for help and saw them fall onto the grass in a neigh­bor’s yard.

That’s when she called po­lice. “I just saw blood spread­ing ev­ery­where,” Chavez re­called. It was all over the vic­tim’s face and clothes.

“The older man was yelling the en­tire time,” she said. She didn’t hear the as­sailant say any­thing at any point dur­ing the whole or­deal — not to the vic­tim or po­lice.

When po­lice ar­rived, they said Diaz was still as­sault­ing the man. Two of­fi­cers struck him with stun guns af­ter he de­fied or­ders to drop the knife.

A HIS­TORY OF PROB­LEMS

This isn’t the first vi­o­lent crime Diaz has been ac­cused of. In 2008, he was sen­tenced on two counts of ag­gra­vated bat­tery in Bon­neville County. He was or­dered to serve up to 30 years in prison for one count that had a weapon en­hance­ment, and up to 15 years in prison for the other count. When he was paroled four months ago, his sen­tence would not have been com­plete un­til that pa­role fin­ished in 2037.

The judge in the Bon­neville County cases, 7th Dis­trict Judge Jon Shin­durl­ing, or­dered Diaz to serve two years and six months for each charge be­fore he was el­i­gi­ble for pa­role, ac­cord­ing to Bon­neville County records. Ul­ti­mately, he was in prison 10 years be­fore he was re­leased.

The States­man on Fri­day re­quested copies of doc­u­ments con­nected to the Bon­neville County as­saults but did not re­ceive an im­me­di­ate re­sponse.

The Idaho States­man re­viewed other as­pects of Diaz’s prior cases on Fri­day and found that Diaz has a court-or­dered con­ser­va­tor be­cause of de­vel­op­men­tal de­lays and men­tal ill­ness. He has been di­ag­nosed with autism and schizophre­nia.

In 2008, Diaz’s mother, San­dra Kaiser, was ap­pointed his le­gal guardian.

On Jan. 24, 2017, the state pa­role com­mis­sion granted Diaz his re­lease. He was still im­pris­oned as of Septem­ber 2017, when Kaiser pe­ti­tioned a judge to re­view her son’s de­ten­tion — not­ing the com­mis­sion’s de­ci­sion.

Her pe­ti­tion files in­cluded a copy of the pa­role de­ci­sion. It said Diaz would be re­leased upon com­ple­tion of pro­gram­ming, but only to an as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­ity. Spe­cial con­di­tions of his re­lease in­cluded that he take med­i­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment.

Kaiser’s re­quest for a writ of habeas cor­pus was ul­ti­mately dis­missed — such a pe­ti­tion can only be filed by the in­mate him­self or by an at­tor­ney, not by a le­gal guardian, the judge on the case ruled.

Sandy Jones, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the pa­role com­mis­sion, told the States­man in an email Fri­day that the rea­son it took so long to re­lease Diaz was be­cause “it took that long to find him a suit­able res­i­dence and ar­range for his dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits.” She said those re­quire­ments are com­mon if an of­fender has clear dis­abil­i­ties and no rea­son­able fam­ily sup­port.

Diaz, since July, has lived at CTM As­sisted Liv­ing, also called the Han­cock House, a small as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­ity at 1322 Han­cock Drive in Boise, a state cor­rec­tional spokesman con­firmed. The fa­cil­ity is only a few blocks away from where the stab­bing in­ci­dent oc­curred at the vic­tim’s house.

As­sis­tant Man­ager Mitch Blan­ton said the fa­cil­ity houses nine res­i­dents, all of whom need men­tal health care. He said the fa­cil­ity did not have any ma­jor prior in­ci­dents with Diaz, and that Diaz was quiet and in­ter­acted well with those at the home.

“Ev­ery­one here is in a state of shock,” Blan­ton said. “It was com­pletely out of char­ac­ter from ev­ery­thing we’ve seen.”

The vic­tim’s fam­ily de­clined to be in­ter­viewed on Fri­day, say­ing they were await­ing fur­ther po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“My fa­ther is a model ci­ti­zen, dili­gent Amer­i­can, Viet­nam Vet and most im­por­tantly has the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a good man,” the Go­FundMe states.

Diaz’s next sched­uled court ap­pear­ance is a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 15. Dur­ing such a hear­ing, a mag­is­trate judge de­cides whether there is enough ev­i­dence to send a case to dis­trict court and a full trial.

Ruben D. Diaz

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