EXCLUSIVE: Suspect accused of stabbing 19-year-old to death near Livermore says he 'snapped'

Image 1 of 3

 A man accused of stabbing a 19-year-old woman and leaving her on the side of a remote road near Livermore told KTVU in an exclusive jailhouse interview that he "snapped" and never meant to hurt or kill her. 

 "I didn't plan to do this at all," Daniel Gross, 19, of Modesto said in a 20-minute interview from behind a glass partition at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

But he said, "I feel like s---. I f---ing hate myself, you know? I wish I could go back in time and that this never happened."

He questioned whether any apology would be adequate. 
He declined to say how his friend, 19-year-old Lizette Cuesta of Tracy, ended up dead. Authorities say she died of stab wounds early Monday after she was found by motorists crawling on her stomach on Tesla Road outside Livermore.  He and his girlfriend, Melissa Jill Leonardo, 25, were both arrested in connection with Cuesta's death.

 "I'd rather not get into that," he said several times during the interview. 

But he said he acted in self-defense after Cuesta elbowed him in the ribs. Gross acknowledged that he reacted, but he wouldn't elaborate.

 "It just happened like this," he said, snapping his fingers. He said the two weren't arguing at the time and that he didn't know why Cuesta attacked him. 

 He said Cuesta was armed with a knife he had given her but that she didn't come at him with the weapon, only her elbows.

 "I gave her the knife," he said. "She didn't feel safe skating in Tracy," he said, referring to the victims's love for skateboarding. "I protected her."

He said the confrontation happened outside somewhere in Livermore after he and Cuesta had had sex in the back of Leonardo's car as Leonardo drove. All three had smoked marijuana that night, he said. 

During the encounter, he said he had tied her up with a yellow rope, with Cuesta's consent. A yellow rope was found at the scene near where Alameda County sheriff's investigators say the victim had been left at the side of the road. 

 Gross said he was not aware until told by KTVU that Cuesta had managed to crawl 100 yards and clung to life for two hours, but not before allegedly telling first responders and motorists that the couple had attacked her. 

 "I'm not mad at her," he said. 

 Gross said he, Cuesta and Leonardo all worked together at a Carl's Jr. restaurant in Tracy. Gross said he and Leonardo were shift leaders, while Cuesta took orders. 

 He said Cuesta began working there about five months ago, and after some time had passed, Gross said his working relationship with Cuesta turned sexual. Both women were aware of each other and did not object, he said. 

He said Leonardo had nothing to do with what happened early Monday other than driving to and from Livermore. 

Asked if he was responsible for what happened, Gross simply nodded. Asked if he should be in jail, he shrugged and said, "I'm here."

Both Gross and Leonardo made their first court appearance Wednesday afternoon. Members of the victim's family were in the gallery and yelled "you'll get what you deserve!" The suspects did not enter a plea. 

A GoFundMe page set up on behalf of Cuesta's family.