Teen Murdered During Sex Triangle Tryst Uses Last Moments Alive To Accuse Killers

February 16, 2018
By: Catherine Townsend

Alameda County Sheriff’s Office

Alameda County Sheriff’s Office

SAN JOSE, CA — A 19-year-old woman who had been repeatedly stabbed, thrown out of a car, and left to die was able to identify her alleged killers with her last breaths.

Police said Lizette Andrea Cuesta crawled nearly 100 yards — the length of a football field — to get to a road, where she was found by UPS delivery workers.

The deserted area was so remote that the UPS workers had to ask other people who had gathered at the scene to go to an area with better cell phone reception and call police.

Daniel Gross; Melissa Leonardo [Alameda County Sheriff’s Office]

Daniel Gross; Melissa Leonardo [Alameda County Sheriff’s Office]

Before she died on Monday morning, Cuesta told police that Melissa Leonardo, 25, and Daniel Gross, 19, were the couple that had so horrifically attacked her.

The suspects have been taken into custody and charged with murder. They are being held in the Santa Rita Jail without bail.

According to Oakland's KTVU-TV, Gross told the news station he had consensual sex, including bondage, with Cuesta, with whom he and Leonardo worked at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant, in a car while Leonardo drove. They also allegedly smoked marijuana. The three coworkers were reportedly involved in a consensual sexual relationship.

Gross allegedly claimed the alleged murder was unplanned, and that he “snapped” and killed Cuesta after she elbowed him in the ribs, KTVU-TV reported. She was stabbed nearly 30 times, according to police.

During the interview, which took place on Valentine’s Day, Gross allegedly asked the KTVU-TV reporter to tell Leonardo that he loves her. According to their Facebook profiles, Gross and Leonardo are engaged.

“Her internal fortitude, to stay alive and to fight, is pretty remarkable,” Sergeant Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office stated about Cuesta. “This young woman clung to life when she was left for dead and was able to live for another couple hours and get us that information. Ultimately that led us to these arrests.”

In the legal world, a “dying declaration” is a statement made by someone who believes they will be dead soon — and is an exception to the legal rule prohibiting hearsay in a courtroom.

In addition to information from Cuesta, police found evidence linking the couple to the murder at the crime scene and at their home.

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