Crime

Jury hears frantic 911 call in Fresno man’s stabbing death. Was it murder?

Eric Kenneth Smith is being tried for murder in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Anthony Romero in May 2018.
Eric Kenneth Smith is being tried for murder in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Anthony Romero in May 2018.

Allan Snow, a resident in Tarpey Village, had no idea what he was walking into when he ran to a neighbor’s home after hearing a woman scream.

Snow lives two doors down from the home where Anthony Romero, 23, was allegedly stabbed to death by his former friend Eric Kenneth Smith, 35, on May 26, 2018.

Smith is on trial in Fresno County Superior Court, accused of Romero’s murder.

Snow testified Wednesday he suspected there had been a domestic dispute at the Duke and Holland avenues home in Fresno. He had earlier seen a male standing outside the home’s garage door, appearing to try and listen to whoever was inside.

What Snow didn’t know is Romero had come over to visit his estranged girlfriend Lauren Means.

She testified she was inside with Smith, a longtime friend of both of theirs, when Romero began asking to be let in. She reluctantly agreed and then a confrontation happened, the details of which are still sketchy.

Within a few moments, Romero’s father, Armando, arrived to drop off his son’s backpack. He left it in his dad’s car. The father testified Tuesday that he knew something was wrong when he pulled up to Means’ home and went inside.

Snow testified that he saw Romero’s father chase Smith away from the house, and then to Smith’s truck, where the elder Romero tried unsuccessfully to pull him out of the vehicle.

“He took off as fast as he could,” Snow testified. “He drove off real fast.”

Snow said he ran over to the house to make sure everything was okay. It wasn’t.

Deputy District Attorney Elana Smith played a recording of the 911 call Snow made. On it you can hear Means screaming frantically, a dog barking and Romero’s father pleading with his son to wake up.

After Snow entered the house, he saw Romero’s lifeless body on the kitchen floor, blood flowing from his body. His dog, a pitbull mix, was barking by his owner’s side.

An emergency 911 operator urgently tried to give Snow and Armando Romero life-saving instructions to try and revive Romero. It was too late.

“He (Romero) just had a blank stare, he never said a word,” Snow said.

Smith’s defense lawyer Tony Capozzi has said his client was acting in self-defense and blames Romero for being the aggressor. The prosecution is trying to convince the jury that Smith was infatuated with Means and jealous she was dating Romero.

Romero’s aunt, Epolita Paul Carion, testified Wednesday that Smith told her Romero was “a loser”and that he wanted to be with Means.

Carion said she has known Smith for about 15 years. She dated his uncle when they were teenagers. But during a ride in a truck (she asked him to drive her to run an errand) he threatened Romero, she said.

Carion testified that the defendant pulled out a knife from the center console of his truck and said “He was going to stab that fool if he doesn’t leave Lauren alone.”

Capozzi appeared to doubt her story and reminded her that a detective investigating the murder pressed her on whether she was telling the truth.

The trial continues Thursday.

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