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Gustine police: 6-year-old girl witnessed grandmother's stabbing death

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG
Gustine Police and detectives place markers where evidence was found after victim Lina Guzman, was killed by her 52-year-old brother-in-law, Alfonso Terraza Guzman, Wednesday, June 24, 2009 morning at 359 Sycamore Ave.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG Gustine Police and detectives place markers where evidence was found after victim Lina Guzman, was killed by her 52-year-old brother-in-law, Alfonso Terraza Guzman, Wednesday, June 24, 2009 morning at 359 Sycamore Ave. Merced Sun-Star

GUSTINE -- A 49-year-old woman described as a caring and compassionate grandmother was stabbed to death inside her Gustine home Wednesday, leaving her friends and neighbors stunned.

Gustine police say the victim, Linda Guzman, was killed by her 52-year-old brother-in-law, Alfonso Terrazas Guzman. The suspect is in police custody and was booked on suspicion of murder, according to Gustine Police Chief Richard Calderon.

The crime was reported at 10:08 a.m. at 359 Sycamore Ave. Police and paramedics arrived at the scene after the victim had walked to a neighbor's house and collapsed on the lawn from multiple stab wounds to her upper torso, Calderon said. Police believe an argument had erupted between Linda Guzman and her brother-in-law in the living room of the home.

Calderon said the victim's 6-year-old granddaughter was in the house and witnessed Alfonso Terrazas Guzman commit the stabbing. After she was stabbed, the victim and her granddaughter walked across the street to a neighbor's house.

Although the neighbor was able to call 911, paramedics were unable to save Linda Guzman. She died at the scene, Calderon said. Police searched the home for additional victims and arrested Alfonso Terrazas Guzman at the scene.

The 6-year-old girl was not physically hurt. Calderon said it's unknown what the victim and the suspect were arguing about, and Alfonso Terrazas Guzman refused to talk with police.

The victim lived in the home with her husband, Andy Guzman Sr., and her brother-in-law, Calderon said.

Calderon said police took several knives from inside the home as evidence.

Friends of Linda Guzman expressed shock and outrage after hearing about the death -- although no one knew what kind of factors led up to the killing.

Marie Rosemire, a longtime friend of Linda Guzman, said the victim had lived in Gustine for more than 30 years. She worked as a clerk at Richard's Market, Gas and Liquors in Gustine, and was a popular Little League coach.

Rosemire said she's "very angry" that such "a fabulous person" was violently robbed of her life. "She coached half the kids in the town," said Rosemire, fighting back tears. "She was friendly and warm as can be."

Tiffany Vitorino, a 37-year-old Gustine resident who also knew Linda Guzman, said residents in the quaint neighborhood where she lived are shocked. "It's tragic. I just don't understand why," Vitorino said. "She was a very, very nice lady. She never did anything to hurt anybody."

The crime scene was processed by detectives with the Merced County Sheriff's Department's Major Crimes Unit.

The death is the seventh homicide in Merced County this year. It's the first homicide in Gustine since the death of Pedro Flores, who was stabbed to death on June 3 last year. Flores, 25, was stabbed several times and died during a gang-related fight in an apartment parking lot in the 1500 block of South Avenue. Four people were arrested on suspicion of committing the crime.

The suspect in Wednesday's slaying remains at the Merced County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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