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Accused Killer’s Courtroom Outburst: “I’m Guilty!”

KPBS reporter tells KPBS' Evening Edition about a surprising outburst from a murder suspect in a San Diego courtroom.

Accused killer Armando Perez stunned a downtown courtroom by shouting "I'm guilty!" at his Superior Court arraignment today.

Armando Gabriel Perez, 39, yelled: "I'm guilty!" following his arraignment today in Superior Court. His lawyer had entered an official plea of "not guilty," with which Perez disagreed.

"Why did you tell me to plead not guilty, man?" Perez asked his attorney. "I’m guilty, all right! I’m guilty!"

Perez was removed from the courtroom and after a short break the arraignment resumed. By law, anyone facing felony charges is not allowed to plead guilty at an arraignment.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has charged Perez with murder in the death of his estranged wife, Diana Gonzalez. He was extradited from Mexico last night and remains jailed in San Diego.

As an agreement of his extradition, the DA cannot pursue the death penalty; Mexico does not have the death penalty. Instead, Perez faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After the hearing Diana Gonzalez’s cousin Beatriz Luna read a statement from the family:

"We have never wished death for anyone. But what does the person who leaves a 10-month-old-baby without her mother deserve? What does the person who snatches a 19-year-old daughter from her parents deserve? Death would be fair. But we have to leave that aspect of human life to its creator."

The body of 19-year-old Gonzalez was found in a men’s restroom on Oct. 12, 2010, at San Diego City College, where she was a student. Perez had been arrested and questioned after allegedly kidnapping and attacking Gonzalez days earlier. But San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declined to file charges -- and faced public criticism after the killing. Dumanis said her office acted properly in that case.

"I am very, very, deeply sorry for this loss and I think the community is sorry for this loss," she said. "We did what we are legally required to do. The one that’s responsible for this is Armando Perez."

San Diego police said in a statement that a fugitive task force brought Armando Perez on Tuesday from Mexico City to San Diego, where he was handed over to homicide detectives and booked on suspicion of murder.

Police say Perez fled to Mexico after Gonzalez's death and was immediately identified as the suspect. He was arrested in Tijuana in February by authorities from both countries.

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