SANTA FE, N.M. – Friends say 21-year-old Victoriano "Mo" Moises Byrne-Gonzales was an expectant father and aspiring artist who had just been promoted to assistant director at his Santa Fe preschool. But that ended the night of Dec. 2, 2011, when he suffered a fatal stab wound.
Prosecutors say it was the tragic result of his effort "to do the right thing" when he saw a woman he didn't know getting beaten by her boyfriend. He died at the scene.
The suspect in the stabbing, Adrian Gonzales, 31, of Dixon, is now on trial in District Court in the death of Byrne-Gonzales, for allegedly assaulting his then girlfriend Natasha Romero and for allegedly stabbing and injuring Santiago Cordova, a friend of Byrne-Gonzales.
On Thursday, prosecutors played taped county jail phone conversations between Gonzales and Romero, recorded shortly after the arrest. Jurors heard an angry Gonzales tell Romero that he had just made "the ultimate sacrifice" for her.
According to the conversations recorded from the Santa Fe County Jail, Gonzales tells Romero he was facing life in prison and that Byrne-Gonzales and Santiago Cordova were attacking him after his fight with Romero. "You better love me for 30 (expletive) years of my life," Gonzales is heard telling a crying Romero who apologizes repeatedly for the altercation.
According to authorities, Byrne-Gonzales was fixing his car when he heard Romero shout, "You're hurting me," and saw the two fighting at the Butterfly Springs Mobile Home Park in Pojoaque.
"We saw a male pounding on a female up against a wall," his brother-in-law, Chris Chavez testified this week. Chavez was with Byrne-Gonzales while the two fixed a car window, he said.
Byrne-Gonzales and Cordova quickly ran to the woman's aid, Chavez told jurors. But minutes later he saw Byrne-Gonzales return with the fatal wound to the neck. Cordova also was stabbed in the back, Santa Fe County sheriff's investigators said.
Hours later, Gonzales, a convicted drug trafficker, was arrested on Interstate 25 and charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and battery on a household member.
Defense attorney Megan Dorsey said, however, her client was acting in self-defense and had confused the men with two others who had burglarized Romero's mother's home.
Dorsey told jurors that Gonzales and Romero were arguing because Romero had been drinking heavily and Gonzales had threatened to end their two-month ago relationship.
In her opening statements, Dorsey said Adrian had been "confronted by two bullies" who tried to take the law into their own hands.
According to Dorsey, Gonzales only yanked Romero because a red truck was driving down the road and might have hit her.
The state countered that Gonzales had grabbed her and bit her ear during their argument.
During another recorded phone conversation, Gonzales is heard mentioning the truck to Romero who said she didn't remember the vehicle.
"My ear hurts," Romero tells Gonzales on the phone. When Gonzales asks her why, she said, "I'm not going to say it on the phone."
Testimony is expected to continue Friday, and could go into next week.
Follow Russell Contreras at http://twitter.com/russcontreras