A Van Nuys jury convicted a 26-year-old man of first-degree murder Thursday in the 1998 death of a Sherman Oaks woman who was stabbed 30 times in her home.
Luis Phillip Ponce killed his girlfriend, Eva Maria Traschel-Gooch, 34, because she was going to tell police he was dealing cocaine, Deputy Dist. Atty. Peter Korn said.
After Traschel-Gooch's body was found in December 1998, Ponce fled to Mexico, Korn said. He was arrested as he attempted to reenter the United States at the Tijuana border in July 1999.
At the time of his arrest, Ponce said he killed Traschel-Gooch in self-defense after she tried to attack him, Korn said.
But Ponce testified during the trial that another man killed her to defend him. The man he accused, however, countered by testifying that Ponce had admitted to stabbing Traschel-Gooch, saying he had to kill her "because she was going to rat on him," Korn said.
After a three-week trial before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Hoff, the jury deliberated four days before reaching a verdict.
Ponce, who faces a maximum 25 years to life in prison, will be sentenced June 7.