Murder Charges Dismissed Against O.C. Woman Who Stabbed Attacker in Self-Defense, DA Says

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Todd Spitzer appears at the Orange County District Attorney's Officer in an undated photo. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Todd Spitzer appears at the Orange County District Attorney’s Officer in an undated photo. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Murder charges have been dismissed against a woman who killed a man in Costa Mesa after he assaulted her, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

District Attorney Todd Spitzer requested the charges be dismissed after new evidence revealed that Amber Angelovic fatally stabbed 32-year-old Derek Valentine in self defense, according to a news release from the DA’s office. They referred to the woman as an assault victim.

On March 11, 2017, Angelovic — then 21 — took an Uber with Valentine back to his Costa Mesa home after they had been out drinking, the release stated. Before that evening, they had been out on one date.

At some point after arriving at Valentine’s home,  Angelovic called 911 from his bedroom and told the dispatcher that Valentine had punched her face and threw her down, prosecutors said. She also said he had prevented her from leaving.

Fearing for her life, Angelovic grabbed the knife she carried for her protection “and engaged in a self-defense drill she learned in a self-defense class,” the release stated.

When police arrived, they found Valentine dead at the bottom of the stairs. He had two stab wounds to the chest.

Investigators searched his home and found handwritten notes on stalking women as well as books with information on how to coax women into having sex, according to prosecutors. They said they also uncovered text messages in which Valentine denigrated women, as well as discussions “about overcoming women’s will to have sex.”

A search of his computer also revealed that he had apparently looked for date rape drugs online. Authorities said drug paraphernalia was found at the home.

Three days after the fatal stabbing, Angelovic was charged with one count of murder and an enhancement that she used a personal weapon.

On Monday, prosecutors asked that the charges against her be dismissed.

“The People have obtained additional evidence and are now convinced Ms. Angelovic had a lawful right to self-defense and therefore are unable to proceed,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown told a judge in court. “The People are making a motion to dismiss based on lack of sufficient evidence and in the interest of justice.”

The decision to dismiss charges is one that is never made lightly, especially in homicide cases, Spitzer said.

“As prosecutors we must not only consider the evidence; we must also consider all possible defenses,” he explained. “After a thorough review and careful consideration there is insufficient evidence in this case to prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt. It is for that reason — and that reason alone — that I am requested these charges be dismissed.”

The DA’s office noted that they received permission from Angelovic and her attorney to identify her as an assault victim.

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