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Santa Clarita murder trial has yet to begin after a year

Pre-trial issues cause delay, officials say

Posted: July 15, 2013 7:18 p.m.
Updated: July 15, 2013 7:18 p.m.

Sheriff's Department investigators consult following the Canyon Country shooting of Alejandro Torrez on Oct. 31, 2011. Signal file photo

Three young men charged with murder in the 2011 Halloween shooting of a Canyon Country man had their case delayed another month on Monday, meaning they will have waited more than a year to stand trial for the shooting death.

It was July 25, 2012, when San Fernando Superior Court Judge Shari Kreisler Silver ordered the trio to stand trial for the death of Alejandro Sanchez Torrez on Oct. 31, 2011.

That trial has yet to take place.

Prosecutors say they’ve been working “diligently” on the case but that obstacles continue to impede progress.

“There have been typical pre-trial matters that have come up,” Shiara Davila-Morales, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, said Monday.

The assistant district attorney assigned to the case, Bradley Lieberman, said pre-trial issues including scheduling problems and, most recently, a change of lawyer for one of the three defendants have slowed proceedings, Davila-Morales said.

The accused are Diamonte Jerome McGhee and Eric Michael Edwards, both 19, and Branden Travaughn Higgs, 18,

The men were juveniles when they were arrested and charged with several felony charges including murder, attempted murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Their much-delayed trial is now set to resume next month.

Torrez, 31, was shot in front of his young son after he stepped in to help a man being robbed in a Canyon Country strip mall parking lot, prosecutors have said in court.

A year ago Lieberman recapped evidence presented at the preliminary hearing supporting 18 felony counts filed against McGhee — identified as the triggerman — and Edwards, and the 17 charges filed against Higgs,

Lieberman described a 48-hour period preceding the fatal shooting during which at least one other person was shot.
The shooting sparked public reaction for a child whose father was killed trying to help someone else.

A fund to help Torrez’s son Anthony Sanchez, now 9, was set up shortly after the shooting.

Santa Clarita Valley residents contributed at least $2,000 to the Alejandro Torrez Memorial Fund in an effort to help the boy left fatherless.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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