A Garden Grove resident was sentenced Friday to 26 years to life in prison for the unprovoked stabbing murder of a 19-year-old man who was attacked while riding his bike to visit friends.
Troy David Son, 23, was convicted March 1 of first-degree murder with a sentencing enhancement that he personally used a deadly weapon. Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark Birney said Bryan Ortega of Garden Grove was riding his bike to see some friends about 9 p.m. on May 19, 2015, when he was targeted at Avalon Avenue and Fairview Street.
A motive for the attack was never established, Birney said. The defendant and victim had attended Santiago High School in Garden Grove at the same time, but did not have classes together, he said. Investigators linked Son to the stabbing through a hat found at the crime scene, Birney said. He said Son had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor vehicle theft and, as part of the plea deal, he submitted his DNA, which allowed investigators to trace the hat to him.
"It was a totally unprovoked, vicious and extremely violent attack on an innocent 19-year-old boy riding his bike to meet a few friends," Birney said after the defendant was convicted.
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At some point during the attack, Ortega, who was "fighting for his life," pushed his assailant away, but Son retrieved his dropped knife and resumed stabbing the victim, the prosecutor said. Jurors were shown surveillance video of the attack.
Son's attorney, Dave Dziejowski, argued for a second-degree murder conviction. He told jurors that a defense expert witness, Dr. Rose Marie Pitt, interviewed the defendant for 16 hours in six visits and diagnosed him with a major depressive disorder with psychotic features.
"He acted impulsively without clear thinking," Dziejowski said in his closing argument. "The day after he was booked, he's hearing voices."