It took a jury less than a day to find Leonardo Valdez-Cruz guilty of first-degree murder, burglary, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a weapon and nine counts of criminal contempt.
After years of harassment, threats and violations of orders of protection, Valdez-Cruz entered Jo’Anna Bird’s New Cassel apartment and tortured her before savagely stabbing her to death on March 19, 2009, Nassau County prosecutors said. Medical examiners testified that they were unable to determine how many stab wounds had been inflicted because there were so many.
Prosecutors had presented the jury with phone records that showed Valdez-Cruz had called the victim over 1,000 times during the 18-day time period leading up to the day of the murder. While in jail for one violation, Valdez-Cruz made several phone calls and wrote numerous letters to Bird threatening to kill her if he ever learned she was with another man, prosecutors said.
The defense argued Bird’s death might have been the result of a drug deal gone wrong.
Valdez-Cruz faces life in prison when he is sentenced on June 11.