Fatal stabbing on Metro Gold Line was self-defense, DA says, as suspect released

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LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The suspect in the fatal stabbing of a 27-year-old man on the Metro Gold Line has been released from custody after investigators say it appears the incident was a case of self-defense from an unprovoked attack.

A police investigation – including a review of surveillance video and an interview with the man initially considered a suspect – indicates that the man who was stabbed and later died, 27-year-old Jalil Sosa Illera, was the aggressor in the confrontation.

The man who was initially arrested as a suspect, Carlos Carrillo-Martinez, 19, used a knife to defend himself from an unprovoked attack by Illera, according to investigators.

A Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office report indicates that Carrillo-Martinez was on a train Tuesday looking at his cellphone when Illera approached “staring at him with his eyes popping out and his lips quivering.”

Carrillo-Martinez asked Illera if he needed help but Illera, unprovoked, punched him in the face, breaking his glasses, and then continued to batter him, the report states.

Carrillo-Martinez was carrying a knife and took it out and stabbed Illera multiple times, according to the report.

He “told police that he felt that if he did not defend himself with the knife he would have been killed.”

He said he tried to back away but Illera at first continued to approach him. Then Illera fled the train and went to his apartment complex, where he collapsed. He was brought to a hospital and then pronounced dead there.

Carrillo-Martinez stayed on the train initially and then called a friend to pick him up.

Investigators say Metro video corroborates Carrillo-Martinez’s statements, including that the attack was unprovoked.

Shortly after the initial incident, police released video of the then-unidentified suspect, asking the public for help finding a person initially believed to be responsible for what was thought to be a violent and fatal attack. Carrillo-Martinez later turned himself in and was placed under arrest. He told investigators about how the incident played out as a case of self-defense, and his narrative was corroborated by video.

“Based upon these facts, and the video evidence of the incident, the evidence is insufficient to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt due to self-defense issues,” the District Attorney’s Office wrote in a report evaluating whether to file charges.

Carrillo-Martinez, 19, is a student at LA Trade Tech who is studying to be an electrician and had just taken a final before the incident, police say. He has no prior criminal record.

Illera appears to have been experiencing personal problems in his life, including possibly being kicked out of school and nine prior calls made to the apartment complex regarding “belligerent behavior” by Illera, the report says.

Illera’s family says he was a musician and fashion designer who had moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams and started his own clothing line, ILL ERA.

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