A Temecula man who stabbed and slashed a jogger in an unprovoked attack that nearly ended her life was convicted Monday of attempted murder.
A Murrieta jury deliberated about two days before finding 21-year-old Kurt Alexander Smallen guilty of the February 2012 attack on a mother of three whom prosecutors allege he intended to kill.
"He was going for her heart with that knife," Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Marcus Garrett told City News Service. "The wounds he inflicted were life-threatening."
Along with the attempted murder count, Smallen was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon resulting in great bodily injury and sentence-enhancing allegations of using a deadly weapon to commit a felony.
He's expected to be sentenced to 11 years to life in prison by Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez on March 14.
According to the prosecutor, Smallen targeted the victim, a 36-year-old Temecula woman whose name was withheld, in a rage after an intense verbal altercation with his mother.
Smallen, then 19, had returned home after a failed quest to achieve success as a college baseball player.
"He had been playing since he was 4 years old. He was married to the sport. That was his whole life," Garrett said.
The Chaparral High School graduate won a scholarship to Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla., where he pitched one season, losing 21 of 22 games, according to Garrett.
"When he got home, there was quite a bit of stress," the prosecutor said. "He had to live by his parents' rules. There was a curfew, no use of tobacco -- that kind of thing."
On Feb. 2, 2012, tensions boiled over, leading to a sharp exchange between Smallen and his mother, after which the defendant stormed out of the house.
According to sheriff's investigators, Smallen took a 3-inch lock-blade knife with him, heading into the Meadow View community, at the center of Temecula.
Another woman reported being stalked by the defendant for nearly an hour as she took a leisurely stroll. But according to investigators, when the 6- foot-2, 170-pound Smallen spotted the victim jogging toward him, he fixed his attention on her instead.
Smallen took out his knife, slashing and stabbing the victim, puncturing both her breasts and piercing her liver, according to the prosecution.
The attack abruptly ended when a bicyclist rode up and confronted Smallen, who turned and ran.
"The guy on the bike was a good Samaritan who helped save the victim's life," Garrett said. "He just happened to be training as an EMT."
Three men bicycling nearby witnessed the attack and chased Smallen down, surrounding and detaining him until deputies arrived.
According to Garrett, the victim was hospitalized for five days and underwent surgery, requiring more than 50 staples to close her wounds.
— City News Service.