CALIFORNIA---re: foreign nationals

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CALIFORNIA---re: foreign nationals

Post  Jennie on Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:59 pm

CALIFORNIA---re: foreign nationals

DA may seek death penalty----Homicide case warrants special circumstances


Prosecutors may seek the death penalty against 2 people accused in the kidnapping and shooting death of a man whose body was found in the trunk of a car this spring outside Gonzales.

On Friday, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Gary Meyer approved attaching "special circumstances" to murder and kidnapping charges against Marisela Zarate Andrade, 31, of Wasco, and Sergio De La Cruz, 32, of Salinas. De La Cruz's charges also include a firearm enhancement.

Zarate Andrade was married to the victim, Jose Nicolas Zarate, 38.

Dennis LaBarbera, the deputy district attorney on the case, said the "special circumstances" filing was requested because investigators believe Zarate was killed in the course of a kidnapping.

The special circumstances will allow prosecutors to pursue capital punishment as a penalty if Zarate Andrade and De La Cruz are ultimately tried and convicted.

"Usually we don't make that decision until after the preliminary hearing has taken place," said Stephanie Hulsey, county assistant district attorney. "After the hearing we'll then evaluate the case, and at that time (the county district attorney), will make the ultimate decision whether or not our office will seek the death penalty."

Both Marisela and a 3rd person arrested in the case, Maria De Andrade, 25, of Salinas, her sister-in-law, were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The 2 women were arrested Monday following a county Sheriff's Office investigation that deputies say linked the woman to the April 11 kidnapping of Zarate from his home in Wasco.

De La Cruz already was in county jail in connection with another case.

Investigators have said evidence indicated Jose Zarate was fatally shot in a vineyard off Sanchez Road outside Gonzales - roughly 162 miles from where he was abducted.

Officials have declined to reveal the motive behind the slaying.

The 3 defendants, who remain in county jail with bail set at more than $1 million each, are expected to enter a plea Monday afternoon.

Some family members of the 2 women, Mexican nationals, attended Friday's hearing.

Ramon Andrade, Maria's husband and Marisela's brother, said he believes the women are innocent. Andrade said the 3 had known each other through work but declined to elaborate.

Marisela, Andrade said, has 3 young daughters and was married to Jose for about a dozen years.

He said his family plans to seek help from the Mexican Consulate.

(source: The Californian)
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