Opening arguments start in fatal love triangle involving teacher

Posted: Updated:
By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

CHANDLER - A Valley man is accused of murdering his fiancé's teenage lover and that fiancé is a former Chandler school teacher.

Also, the murder suspect and the victim were both her students at one point. The opening arguments in this case were on Thursday and 48-year-old Tamara Hoffman is at the center of the story.

She is a teacher described by both prosecutors and defense attorneys as a woman who likes boys.

During the opening arguments the jury learned about the death of one of Hoffman’s students and one of her lovers, 18-year-old Samuel Valdivia. It happened inside her Chandler home during the early morning hours of April 10, 2009.

Hoffman was engaged to 20-year-old Sixto Balbuena, a sailor, at the time. The two had met four years ago when she was his teacher at Marcos de Niza High School.

The morning of Valdivia's death, Balbuena was on his way to Hoffman's home returning from a long shift, which was about a four-hour drive away.

Prosecutors say he became very angry when he figured out why his fiancé was not answering his phone calls.

Prosecutors say he constantly changed his story to police about the events that took place. Defense attorneys say Balbeuena was concerned for his fiancé's safety when she did not answer her phone and when he saw a stranger in her bedroom, protective instincts kicked in.    

Defense attorneys point to the fact that Balbuena made the call to 911 and remained at the home until police arrived but prosecutors say that 911 call was not from a man that was scared or concerned for his fiancé.