[UPDATED with New Not Guilty Plea:] Itzcoatl Ocampo, Serial Killer Suspect, Accused of 6 Fatal Stabbings
How could the discharged Marine who was literally caught red-handed claim his innocence? His defense attorney explained his thinking to reporters outside court.
"I can tell you right now, he's cracked, he's ill, he's fractured. . . . he doesn't understand where he is or what his situation is," claimed Randall Longwith (via the Orange County Register).
And so, we have the makings of another not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity defense in assigned Judge Francisco Briseno's courtroom, just as District Attorney Tony Rackauckas predicted. A March 9 pre-trial hearing has been set.
This was Ocampo's second not guilty plea, the first having come when he was arraigned or the murders of four homeless men since Dec. 20. The second plea became necessary when the Orange County Grand Jury indicted the 23-year-old last week for those murders and the slayings about a mile from his Yorba Linda home of a mother and her adult son last October. Several victims pinned on Ocampo were stabbed 30-40 times.
UPDATE, FEB. 16, 4:23 P.M.: The Orange County Grand Jury today indicted Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo for the stabbing-murders of a mother, her son and four homeless men since Oct. 25, 2011. The six felony counts of murder with special circumstances for multiple murders and lying in wait--plus sentencing enhancements for personal use of a deadly weapon, a knife, during the commission of a crime--make the Yorba Linda 23-year-old eligible for life in state prison without the possibility of parole or, possibly, the death penalty with a conviction.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty or convene a special panel within his office to recommended such a penalty.
In the meantime, Ocampo is to arraigned Tuesday in Santa Ana on the grand jury indictment, which will speed up justice because no preliminary hearing will be necessary. The young man is being held without bail.
|Eder Giovanni Herrera|
"ICE's case review showed Mr. Herrera had not had any prior immigration enforcement encounters, nor did he have a criminal history, aside from the charges which were just dismissed," reads a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Herrera's immigration problems may not be over, however.
UPDATE, FEB, 6, 1:14 P.M.: Though Eder Giovanni Herrera has been released from custody for the murder of his mother, 53-year-old Raquel Estrada, and his 34-year-old brother, Juan Herrera, he has not been released from custody.
After Orange County sheriff's deputies cut loose the 24-year-old, he was immediately scooped up by federal immigration officials who are now holding Herrera in a detention facility. That means he's suspected of violating either an immigration law or another law that would warrant deportation proceedings.
Meanwhile, today's arraignment of Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo for allegedly murdering Raquel Estrada and Juan Herrera was continued to March 16. He, the victims and the former suspect all lived within a mile of one another in Yorba Linda.
UPDATE, FEB, 4, 10:01 A.M.: DNA evidence links accused serial killer Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo to the fatal stabbings of 53-year-old Raquel Estrada and her son Juan Herrera, 34--just as it clears Eder Giovanni Herrera of the same crimes, according to the district attorney. In announcing that new charges would be filed against 23-year-old Ocampo and dropped against Eder Herrera, 24, DA Tony Rackauckas explained what led authorities to suspect each former student of Esperanza High School in Yorba Linda.
Brea Police investigating the Oct. 25 murders of the mother and son in their Yorba Linda home had reason to suspect Herrera moved at least one body, placed the 9-1-1 call alerting cops to the murders and acted strangely in the hours afterward.
"At this point, we have not conclusively eliminated Mr. Herrera as a suspect in this case," Rackauckas said at a quickly arranged press conference Friday evening. "We will continue to investigate this case."
Here are specifics on why the DA's office filed double murder charges against Herrera on Oct. 27, according to Rackauckas:
"A witness saw a person he believed to be Herrera, dragging something from the front door threshold into the house. Based on blood evidence at the scene, it appeared that victim Juan Herrera had attempted to escape out the front door before being dragged back inside.
"There was no evidence of forced entry into the home.
"Herrera spent the evening driving around randomly with a friend. His behavior was suspicious. Law enforcement had evidence to believe that Herrera was in the area at the approximate time the 9-1-1 call was placed.
"Video surveillance from a CVS showed a person resembling Herrera walking past the CVS close to the time of the 9-1-1 call. The call was placed from a nearby pay phone. The person captured on video was wearing shoes with a distinctive pattern on the side that appeared to match those that Herrera was wearing at the time of his arrest.
"Herrera and his friend drove past Herrera's home and observed the police and crime scene investigation in front of the home.
"Herrera did not want to stop to check on his family. At the urging of his friend, Herrera called his brother and mother, but was unable to reach them on their cell phones.
"Despite these events, Herrera made no further effort to check on his mother and brother."