SANTA ANA — A man wielding two knives stabbed a janitor in a Garden Grove tea house more than 20 times and then mopped up the crime scene, called 911, brushed his teeth and calmly waited for police to arrive, attorneys said.
Trial began on Tuesday, Sept. 26, for a 23-year-old Anaheim man charged with first-degree murder for the 2014 stabbing of Cesar Ramirez, 24, in a bloody incident caught on security video in the Volcano Tea House, which has since closed.
Robert Gabriel Rodgers has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. If jurors find him guilty, the trial will move on to a second phase where they will determine if he was sane at the time of the killing.
In her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Herrera said Rodgers went to the tea house at about 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2014 wearing a belt around his neck and holding a backpack with items including a hacksaw, bolt cutters, a large hammer, pliers and black gloves.
He took a picture of himself standing outside of the tea shop with a disposable camera, she said.
The shop was closed, so Rodgers pretended to have a problem or an injury in an attempt to lure Ramirez, who was inside cleaning, she said. The two did not know each other, attorneys said.
After several minutes, Ramirez unlocked the door and Rodgers barged in with a knife in each hand, Herrera said.
On surveillance video, jurors will see a five- to six-minute confrontation where Ramirez is repeatedly stabbed and dragged into a back room, the prosecutor said. The man in the video is then seen picking up a bucket and mob and cleaning.
At one point, a female employee showed up and saw a man she did not recognize inside; he waived at her to come in and indicated for her to be quiet, Hererra said.
The woman, sensing something was wrong, locked the door from the outside as another person called 911.
Locked inside the shop, Rodgers called 911 from his cell phone and asked for police to respond, but did not elaborate, the prosecutor said. He then placed his ID on the table, brushed his teeth and flipped his sweatshirt around to hide blood stains, she…