Santa Cruz County man on trial for fatal stabbing of sleeping brother

SANTA CRUZ — A Watsonville man accused of stabbing his brother to death while he was asleep in bed will stand to face trial for murder, a judge ruled this week.

According to details sketched in testimony by several deputies during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Celedonio Diaz reportedly appeared at around 9 p.m. Tuesday at his mother’s Watsonville home, where he occasionally slept. Within 45 minutes, police were called to the De Lane Avenue home, where they found that 55-year-old Francisco Diaz had been stabbed in her bedroom.

Two days later, after a standoff at the Gilroy Motel, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office arrested 39-year-old Celedonio Diaz. After his arrest, Celedonio Diaz, who pleaded not guilty to the charges In May, he told investigators that according to testimony, he did not remember what he was doing 72 hours earlier.

Detectives later recovered a silver Mazda SUV, which appeared to be with a bloodied kitchen knife parked outside a Pajaro church.

fatal night events

According to testimony, on the night of March 30, 2021, Francisco Diaz was reportedly sleeping in his room, a room his mother, brother Marcos Diaz and a family friend had rented elsewhere in the house. Celedonio Diaz – Francisco’s brother and Marcos Diaz – reportedly appeared at the home, angry and as if drinking, deputies said family members told him.

Both Mom and Marcos Diaz called 911 separately on Celedonio Diaz that night, deputies testified.

During Wednesday’s court hearing, sheriff’s office deputy Ryan Fulton testified that Marcos Diaz described his brother as hysterical, angry, sad, and sometimes crying that evening. He said his brother apparently had been drinking throughout the day. Celedonio Diaz, Fulton was told by the brother, could go “crazy” when he drinks. That night, Marcos Diaz told the deputy, Celedonio said that he was annoyed by the comments Francisco had allegedly made towards his mother.

Fulton testified to Marcos Diaz’s statements that night, “he believed that Francisco had disrespected his mother and was stressing her out.”

According to testimony, earlier in the day, Celedonio Diaz was reportedly hanging out with Marcos Diaz and took Marcos Diaz to his house. Marcos Diaz told the deputy that he did not know what happened to anger Celedonio Diaz in the interim, he said. A fourth brother, Napoleon Diaz, reportedly told deputies that Celedonio Diaz came to their home in a gray SUV at around 8 p.m. According to testimony, Celedonio Diaz allegedly drove his SUV into the vehicle of a friend parked on the property. Then Celedonio Diaz reportedly exited his SUV with a beer in one hand and a 5-inch fixed blade knife in the other, demanding money from a friend of Napoleon Diaz. According to testimony, Napoleon Diaz forced his brother, whom he described as “sauced” or drunk, to leave the estate.

‘Caught a big kitchen knife’

Mom Aurelia Diaz later told a deputy that Celedonio Diaz, drunk and possibly high on drugs, had come home as she was getting ready for bed. After her son hugs her and says he loves her, she later begins demanding that she kick Francisco Diaz out of the house, deputy Laura niguez testifies.

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