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Murder Charges Against Assaulted Woman Dismissed

Murder charges against a woman who killed her assaulter were dismissed by District Attorney Todd Spitzer on Feb. 11. 

On March 11, 2017, Amber Angelovic and Derek Valentine took an Uber to Valentine’s home after spending the night drinking at a Costa Mesa bar. The two had met at a party about three weeks before Valentine’s death and had been on one date prior to that night. 

That night, Angelovic called 911 from Valentine’s bedroom, reporting that Valentine had hindered her from leaving and had begun hitting her in the face and throwing her to the floor. Fearing that she would be raped or killed, Angelovic performed a drill she had learned in a self-defense class using a knife that she carries for personal protection. 

Costa Mesa police officers found Valentine dead at the bottom of the stairs of his home with two stab wounds to the chest. 

Angelovic was charged with one felony count of murder and an enhancement due to the personal use of a weapon on March 14, 2017. 

A later search of Valentine’s home revealed drug paraphernalia, books on how to get women to have sex with you, a whiteboard with handwritten notes about how to stalk women and multiple texts in which Valentine defames women and discusses overcoming women’s will to have sex. An internet search for date rape drugs was discovered upon further examination of his computer. 

“The people have obtained additional evidence and are now convinced Ms. Angelovic had a lawful right to self-defense and therefore are unable to proceed. The people are making a motion to dismiss based on lack of sufficient evidence and in the interest of justice,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown stated when appearing in court asking to dismiss charges on Feb. 10.

“The decision to dismiss criminal charges –  especially charges that involve the death of a person – is not a decision that is made lightly,” Todd Spitzer said in the OCDA’s press release. “After a thorough review and careful consideration, there is insufficient evidence in this case to prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt. It is for that reason – and that reason alone – that I am requested these charges be dismissed.”

The DA’s office obtained permission from Angelovic and her attorney John Barnett to identify her as an assault victim

“Ms. Angelovic is relieved the order is over and she is thankful for the very careful investigation that Heather Brown and the district attorney’s office did in evaluating the evidence,” said Barnett in an interview with the Orange County Register.

The Angelovic family also expressed their gratitude in a blog established to support Angelovic through the trial process.

“We are struggling to find the right words at the moment. After three years, we will need some time to process, heal and celebrate,” the blog said. “It was humbling and touching to experience the prayers and support from people all over the world. We owe you such a debt of gratitude.”  

UCI Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE) provides free and confidential support services to those who have experienced sexual assault, relationship abuse, family violence and/or stalking. Through the promotion of education, programming and transformative action in the UCI community, UCI CARE aims to end power-based personal violence. 

Alessandra Arif is a City News Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. She can be reached at aearif@uci.edu.