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Kern County jury finds man guilty of murder, robbery

Slide Court Report

A Kern County jury found a man guilty of second-degree murder and robbery on Monday,  the Kern County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

On Dec. 16, 2020, the Bakersfield Police Department received reports of a stabbing at the Motel 6 on Easton Avenue. There, officers found Corey Wayne Thomas suffering from many stab wounds, according to a Kern County District Attorney’s Office’s news release. Thomas was taken to Kern Medical, where he died, the news release said.

The investigation determined Jose Luis Valdez Esparza to be the suspect. Video footage showed Esparza’s attempt to take property from Thomas’ possession. A fight broke out, and Esparza stabbed Thomas four times; one wound was fatal, according to the news release.

On March 16, 2021, the BPD identified Esparza as entering JC Penney in Valley Plaza, stealing merchandise and brandishing a knife at protection agents, the news release said.

Esparza escaped to Wilson Park, where he was arrested on suspicion of murder and robbery.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 16 and faces 21 years to life in prison, the news release said.