By Jenna Pizzi/The Times of Trenton
on April 29, 2013 at 10:57 AM

EAST WINDSOR - The East Windsor man accused of fatally stabbing another man after the two had a fight earlier this month says he was acting in self-defense, his attorney said during a court appearance this morning.

Christian Lemus-Estrada, 18, said he and Carlos Tinizhanay-Arias, 28, got into a fight at a friend’s apartment and Tinizhanay-Arias choked him, Lemus-Estrada’s attorney Nicole Carlo said.

“He was very afraid of him,” Carlo said. “The alleged victim was highly intoxicated and lunged at him on several occasions.”

Lemus-Estrada is facing murder charges and weapons offenses, Assistant Prosecutor Brain McCauley said. Judge Robert Billmeier maintained his bail at $500,000 at the hearing.

McCauley said the two men got into a fight at the residence of a mutual friend in the Windsor Castle Apartments. Lemus-Estrada left to go to his home in the same apartment complex and returned about five minutes later, at around 11:40 p.m., with a knife, McCauley said.

Lemus-Estrada held the knife behind his back when entering the apartment and stabbed Tinizhanay-Arias once in the torso under his arm, McCauley said.

Tinizhanay-Arias was taken by ambulance to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, where he was pronounced dead at around 12:45 a.m. April 20.

McCauley said self-defense is not a valid defense for the charges Lemus-Estrada is facing because he left the apartment and returned armed.

“You cannot arm yourself in anticipation of self-defense,” he said.

Tinizhanay-Arias, who also lived in the same apartment complex, was the first homicide victim in East Windsor in three years. The homicide marked Mercer County’s ninth of the year. The previous eight took place in Trenton.

Lemus-Estrada is a native of Guatemala who has been living in the country illegally for the last 8 months, McCauley said. He added that the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been notified of the charges and he could be deported after the charges are resolved.

Carlo said Lemus-Estrada has four brothers who live in the area, and he was living in East Windsor with one of them.

McCauley said while Lemus-Estrada has no known criminal record in the U.S., he may be a person of interest in a homicide investigation in Guatemala.

Tinizhanay-Arias’ family appeared in court for the hearing. The family members, who asked not to be named, said they just want justice. Tinizhanay-Arias’ wife said she is left to care for two young children, ages 3 and 8 months, on her own.