In 2012, Julio Cesar Mercado was convicted and sentenced to prison for swinging a kitchen knife at another man during a fight in Rio Rico. Nearly a decade later, he’s back in prison for stabbing someone in Nogales.

Mercado, 39, was sentenced at Santa Cruz County Superior Court on April 19 to 2.5 years of prison after he pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a Class 4 felony. Judge Thomas Fink gave him credit for 97 days served prior to sentencing.

That same day, Fink sentenced Mercado to a year of prison for an unrelated conviction on one count of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class 6 undesignated felony. He allowed that term to be served concurrent to – or at the same time as – Mercado’s assault sentence.

Court records show that shortly before 10 p.m. on Dec. 16, 2020, a Nogales Police Department officer went to a Circle K on Grand Avenue in response to a call that a man had entered the store covered in blood.

The man told the officer that Mercado had stabbed him after accusing him of stealing five small bags of methamphetamine and money. He said Mercado first threatened to stab him, then did so three times with a butterfly knife.

He also said Mercado kicked him and hit him in the face with brass knuckles.

Hospital staff told the officer that the victim had suffered a collapsed lung and possible arterial bleeding after being stabbed in the right shoulder area.

Mercado’s drug conviction stemmed from another incident earlier in the year, on Feb. 3, 2020, when an NPD officer patrolling on North Grand Avenue saw a man run from the sidewalk toward a gas station. The officer found the man – later identified as Mercado – hiding under a truck parked at a gas pump. The officer arrested Mercado, and in emptying his pockets, found a small container of a white, crystal-like substance that was later confirmed to be heroin. He also found a knife.

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