Jose Elmer Vasquez faces up to 20 years in prison for stabbing a man in the back outside a Manassas restaurant.
Vasquez, 26, was convicted Wednesday of malicious wounding for stabbing German Hernandez at Maxwell’s Pupuseria Restaurant on Liberia Avenue.
On May 21, the men got into a scuffle on the club’s dance floor. Both Vasquez and Hernandez said through translators Wednesday that security guards broke up the fight and kicked them out of the club, but that’s where the similarities in their testimonies ends.
Hernandez said the fight started because he was dancing with Vasquez’s girlfriend.
Vasquez came back from getting a beer, saw them dancing, then punched Hernandez in the forehead, Hernandez said.
After they were thrown out of the club, Vasquez followed Hernandez through the parking lot, jumped him from behind and stabbed him in the back and in the neck, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Conway said.
However, the case made by defense attorney Margaret DeWild painted a very different picture.
From the witness stand, Vasquez admitted to the stabbing, but said it was in self-defense after Hernandez came at him with a knife.
Vasquez said Hernandez had attacked him before, and that there was bad blood between them since he’d started dating Jenny Moreno, Hernandez’s ex-girlfriend.
The fight in the club started when a drunk and agitated Hernandez stumbled up to Jenny in the club and grabbed her from behind as she was dancing, Vasquez said.
A fight broke out, and security guards kicked them out of the club. Once outside, Vasquez took a knife from a friend’s truck.
“I knew I had to get something, because he had already threatened to kill me,” Vasquez testified Wednesday through an interpreter.
Vasquez went to his car to try and leave, he testified. As he was putting his keys in the car, Hernandez ran up on him with a knife, Vasquez said. The defendant testified that he dodged the blow, and then stabbed Hernandez in self-defense.
A coworker of Vasquez’s corroborated that story Wednesday, saying he saw Hernandez attack Vasquez first.
Both Jenny Moreno and her sister also testified for the defense, saying Moreno had a three-year relationship with Hernandez that ended badly.
Hernandez said he’d never met Moreno before.
“One side or the other is telling a terrible lie,” Judge Lon E. Ferris said before announcing his sentence.
Ferris found Vasquez guilty of malicious wounding, citing the fact that Hernandez had been stabbed in the back – a wound not likely to come from face-to-face combat, Ferris said.
Ferris said the defendant’s testimony sounded like a “contrived story,” but gave the defense an opportunity to prove Hernandez and Moreno previously had a relationship.
“I didn’t expect this result,” said DeWild, the defense attorney. “I didn’t think we’d need more than four witnesses.”
Conway, who prosecuted the case, said he hadn’t previously heard anything about a history between Hernandez and Vasquez’s girlfriend, and said the victim’s testimony had been consistent since the beginning.
However, Conway said proof that Hernandez was lying about knowing Moreno could potentially affect Wednesday’s outcome.
Malicious wounding carries a sentence of between five and 20 years, and a fine of up to $100,000. Ferris will decide Vasquez’s sentence Nov. 17.