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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

heraldtribune.com: Illegal Alien Murder Facundo Claims Self Defense

heraldtribune.com: Southwest Florida's Information Leader

Suspect: Slaying was self-defense

By MIKE SAEWITZ



mike.saewitz@heraldtribune.com

SARASOTA -- The man accused of killing a 41-year-old woman last month told detectives he was defending himself and "didn't mean to kill her," according to a police report.

Eustorgio Leonides Facundo was charged with killing Teresa Knight on May 25 after a dispute over sex. Authorities say he and his girlfriend drove Knight's body to woods near Englewood, where investigators say he used gasoline to set the body on fire.

Explaining the situation that led to Knight's death, Facundo told detectives he struggled with Knight after she grabbed for his wallet.

Facundo, 25, said she tried to hit him with a bottle and choke him with a television cable. He said she nearly overpowered him.

Police say Facundo strangled Knight with the television cable.

His 20-year-old girlfriend, Heather Joslin, was charged with accessory after the fact.

A Mexican national who had been deported in 2001, Facundo had been arrested on vehicle burglary and battery charges just a month before the murder.

But he was allowed to post bond and go free because authorities never figured out that he was an illegal alien.

Court records detail for the first time Facundo's version of what happened at the house on the 1600 block of Ninth Street on May 25.

Facundo said he had been drinking that day. He told detectives he and a friend planned to burn down the house after Knight was killed.

But Joslin arrived and took Facundo to buy a one-gallon container of water at 7-Eleven, and then to a gas station where the container was emptied of water and filled with gas, the arrest report said.

They took Knight's body to the woods near Gulf Cove. Authorities responding to the fire found Knight's body.

Joslin told a friend that her boyfriend killed a woman, according to court records. The friend got in touch with Charlotte County sheriff's detectives, who worked with Sarasota authorities to find Facundo.

Facundo and Joslin were arrested a few days after the murder as they drove north on Interstate 75 near Fruitville Road.

Facundo is being held without bail at the Sarasota County Jail, while Joslin was released after posting $1,000 bond the day after her arrest.

Facundo's arraignment, where he will enter a plea, is scheduled for July.

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