When a California teen got into a car with a young couple she knew earlier this week, she didn’t realize that she was putting her life in critical danger.
According to CBS News, 19-year-old Lizette Cuesta was riding with 19-year-old Daniel Gross and 25-year-old Melissa Leonardo along a rural Alameda County road late Sunday when they targeted her for a vicious attack.
At some point in the night, the couple brutally stabbed the victim multiple times and left her bleeding on the street.
Only, they didn’t realize she would survive the attack long enough to be found.YallKnowWhat/Facebook
According to CBSSF, the teen was found alive by a passing motorist after she crawled more than 100 yards down the street, leaving a trail of blood and clothes behind her.
The Good Samaritan, Richard Loadholt, contacted police when he saw the badly wounded woman. He said:
“She said she felt she was going to die. I said ‘No, you aren’t going to. You are going to fight. You’re going to sit up, you’re not laying down, and you’re doing to be alright.'”
His encouraging words helped the 19-year-old fight to stay alive long enough to answer questions for police — and point the finger at the couple who allegedly attacked her.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Cuesta used her last words to identify the suspects before tragically passing away.
Alameda County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told CBSSF:
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office
“We were able to have a conversation with her. She was able to give us information before she died that led us to Modesto and we were able to take two people into custody that we feel are responsible in this homicide investigation.”
Gross and Leonardo were both arrested for the crime later that morning. Kelly said it was Cuesta’s will to survive that helped capture the suspects:
“This victim really, really tried to survive. She fought. The last thing we believe she was able to do was point us in the direction of the people that killed her, and that’s pretty remarkable.”
Cuesta’s final words are classified as a “dying declaration,” which is defined as a:
Statement made by a declarant, who is now unavailable, who made the statement under a belief of certain or impending death, and the statement concerns the causes or circumstances of impending death.
According to the Federal Rules of Evidence, a dying declaration is an exception to the hearsay rule, which generally disallows the use of statements that are made outside of court for purposes of proving the truth of the matter asserted.
While Cuesta unfortunately didn’t survive her brutal attack, perhaps her loved ones can take some comfort knowing she was able to expose her alleged killers.