LAKEPORT — A man on trial for killing a neighbor he mistakenly thought was a pedophile claims he did it in self defense and out of fear for his young son's safety.
The prosecution, however, contends it was hatred that drove Ivan Garcia Oliver to stab Michael Dodele, a convicted rapist, 60 times at a Lakeport mobile home park in 2007.
“He had an aversion to child molesters,” Lake County Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said during opening statements in Oliver's murder trial, which began Wednesday in Lake County Superior Court. He said testimony will show Oliver admitted going to Dodele's home with the intent to murder.
In addition to first degree murder, Oliver, 34, is charged with burglary, elder abuse — the victim was 67 — and several special allegations, including using a knife to commit murder.
Oliver thought Dodele was a pedophile because of a confusing entry on a Megan's Law website that lists sex offenders, Hinchcliff said.
Dodele had two convictions on multiple charges of rape and attempted rape in the 1970s and 1980s, but his victims were adult women, not children. He had served almost 20 years for his second conviction and had been released from prison just months before he was killed.
Oliver's defense attorney, Stephen Carter, said his client believed his 4-year-old son was in jeopardy.
When Oliver confronted Dodele, a fight ensued and Oliver “came out on top,” he said. Oliver suffered a cut during the struggle.
Oliver was prone to violent confrontations prior to the homicide, according to court records and testimony on the first day of trial.
In 2003 he was convicted of stabbing a security guard who confronted him and two other men after they left a restaurant without paying, according to San Diego County records.
According to testimony Wednesday, on the morning of Nov. 20, 2007, the day Dodele was stabbed, Oliver punched, beat and kicked another neighbor, a young man who is now a woman.
“He would have killed me” if his girlfriend had not stopped him, said Monica Bojorquez. She said Oliver was only a nodding acquaintance and the attack caught her by surprise. She said Oliver had summoned her to his home, then closed and locked the door, bared his tattooed chest and began assaulting her.
Bojorquez was emotional and distracted on the witness stand and unable to identify Oliver in the courtroom. He bears little resemblance to the heavy set man with a buzz-cut, mustache and goatee who is smirking in his 2007 booking photo. On Wednesday he wore a dark suit, glasses and medium-length hair.
The trial is expected to last about two months. If convicted, Oliver faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
(You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or Glenda.firstname.lastname@example.org.)