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.

Next Up

Man Arrested After Tech CEO Found Murdered In Her Baltimore Apartment

Pava LaPere, a rising tech star in her twenties, was murdered in her Baltimore home. After a few days on the run, Jason Dean Billingsley, 32, was arrested and charged with her murder.

Believe It Or Not, Scott Peterson, Convicted Wife-Killer, Has Groupies

Since Peterson first got arrested in 2003, admirers have continually loaded his prison bank account with donations.

An Arizona Man Is Freed From Death Row After 29 Years In Prison

After nearly 29 years on death row, 64-year-old Barry Jones was freed to spend his first Father’s Day with his children in decades.

Three Men Charged In Killing Of Hip-Hop Legend Jam Master Jay

The Run-DMC DJ was shot to death in a Queens recording studio in October 2002.

Omaima Nelson: The Model Who Killed, Castrated & Ate Her Husband For Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day 1991, Nelson unleashed her fury, she claimed, over the sexual terror and other abuses to which her husband Bill had subjected her.

5 Key Facts About The Jessica Chambers Murder Case

Jessica Chambers suffered an agonizing death: Firefighters saw her walking toward them, wearing only her underwear & burned over 93 percent of her body.

DNA Ties Two Virginia College Students’ Homicides To ‘Back-To-School Killer’

One victim’s mother called Jesse Matthew Jr. "a serial rapist and murderer who had been hiding in plain sight."

A Nebraska College Student Left A Party And Was Never Seen Again

A man was charged with second-degree murder in the case of Tyler Marie Thomas, who disappeared on her way home from an off-campus party on Dec. 3, 2010.

Man Convicted In 1981 Cold Case Murder Of Woman Strangled To Death With Her Own Pantyhose

More than 40 years after the murder of 30-year-old Sonia Carmen Herok-Stone, DNA from under her fingernail led to the conviction of Michael Scott Glazebrook.

True Crime News Roundup: Arrest Made In Fatal Shooting Of A Military Mother Visiting Her Son’s Grave

Plus: Woman accused of using kiss to pass drugs to inmate boyfriend who overdosed; authorities limit search for California teen who went missing after graduation party; Salman Rushdie attacker pleads not guilty; and ex-cop in Kansas suspected of 10-year sex-assault spree, police say.