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Sentencing postponed for man who stabbed his roommate in Pacific Beach

By JAMES R. RIFFEL and KELLY WHEELER

City News Service

Sentencing was postponed Friday for a Pacific Beach man who fatally stabbed his roommate and tried to commit suicide in 2008, with his attorney contending the delay was needed so the diagnosed schizophrenic could receive new medication.

Ian Suazo, 23, was convicted in March of second-degree murder in the Sept. 24, 2008, death of Ocie Raines and was found to be legally sane at the time.

A jury rejected defense claims that Suazo was hearing voices and convinced that a “soul collector” was coming to get him, as defense attorney Richard Gates maintained.

Gates told Judge John Einhorn that the medication his client was using in the past year and a half was unavailable in state prison, so he tried a new drug that produced negative side effects.

Jail doctors will have to find him a new medication, Gates said.

The judge, who was at first reluctant to grant the defense request for a delay, rescheduled sentencing for Sept. 10 so Suazo can get “balanced in his medications” before he is sent to prison for 16 years to life.

Gates argued in trial that, because of his mental disease, Suazo did not know the nature of his actions and didn’t know it was morally wrong to stab the victim with a bread knife.

“This is not the way you kill a friend,” Gates told the jury. “This is the way you kill something that is evil.”

Suazo poured salt around the doors and windows of his apartment to ward off evil spirits and mistook the 39-year-old Raines for a “soul collector” and killed him, Gates said.

After Suazo killed Raines, he cut his wrists and threw himself in front of a car in an attempt to commit suicide, the defense attorney said.

Suazo was out of touch with reality and even went to a church in hopes that God would protect him, his attorney said.

But Deputy District Attorney Ana De Santiago said that just because the defendant suffers from a mental disease doesn’t mean he didn’t know right from wrong.

The prosecutor said Suazo was angry and frustrated at Raines because he thought his roommate was somehow responsible for him getting fired at a local hookah bar about a week before the murder.

Months before the killing, Suazo was described as a good worker, was functional and had a social life, the prosecutor said.

Suazo had been warned to stay away from drugs and alcohol but voluntarily chose to resume those habits, De Santiago said.

After Suazo was fired, his father said he was “mad as hell,” according to the prosecutor.

Friends said Suazo was drinking “morning, noon and night” after he lost his job, De Santiago said.