Woman charged with stabbing, killing cousin headed to Common Pleas court

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

The situation was “totally emotional” as family members confronted a York City man  over Christmas weekend last year. Amid the volatility, police allege, a cousin, Ninoska Santos-Cruz, stabbed the man, Joselito Pagan-Ocasio, and killed him.

Exactly what started the fight, investigators have not said. Santos-Cruz’s attorney indicated such details could be revealed as the case progresses.

“We think there’s events that will come to light,” attorney Paul Kovatch said.

Court records, though, show Pagan-Ocasio, 36, had a criminal history over the past decade that included a robbery charge locally and a child molestation case in Lancaster County.

Ninoska Santos-Cruz

Santos-Cruz, 23, faces a homicide charge in Pagan-Ocasio’s death after she appeared for a preliminary hearing in York County Magisterial District Court on Wednesday. No testimony was heard as Kovatch waived the hearing and stipulated to the allegations.

Judge Ronald Haskell then sent the case on to Common Pleas Court.

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According to York City Police, Santos-Cruz and several family members confronted Pagan-Ocasio at a home in the 300 block of East King Street the night of Dec. 26, 2021. Pagan-Ocasio was apparently armed with knives and a pair of shears during the argument, details in the probable cause affidavit in the case show.

As he began to settle down, police alleged, Santos-Cruz took a knife from Pagan-Ocasio’s hand and stabbed him once in the chest.

Pagan-Ocasio collapsed and bled while Santos-Cruz set the knife down and the family left, the affidavit says.

Kovatch described the scenario as “totally emotional” after Wednesday’s hearing.

“It’s a tragic incident that occurred with family members,” Kovatch said.

As the case progresses, Santos-Cruz is scheduled to be formally arraigned before Judge Gregory Snyder on March 30. She is being held in York County Prison without bail.

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Meanwhile, according to court records, Pagan-Ocasio pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to commit robbery in York County in February 2016. Then in December 2019, court records show, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of indecent assault to a minor and corruption of a minor. He was sentenced to one to two years' confinement and three years of probation in that case.

— Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.