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Court date set in 3-year-old SCV Halloween murder case

Posted: August 28, 2014 3:08 p.m.
Updated: August 28, 2014 3:09 p.m.

A boy and a sheriff's deputy talk after a man was shot in the parking lot of a Canyon Country strip mall on Oct. 31, 2011. Signal file photo

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A San Fernando Superior Court judge Thursday set a date for possible jury selection to begin in the trial of three men accused of gunning down a Canyon Country man on Halloween three years ago.

In a case that has been complicated by the fact that three suspects are charged, Judge David Gelfound set a Sept. 2 court date for defendants Diamonte Jerome McGhee, Eric Michael Edwards and Branden Travaughn Higgs.

At that hearing, Gelfound will decide whether prosecutors and attorneys for the defendants are ready to begin jury selection. If so, jurors will begin to be picked on Sept. 3, court officials said.

At a July 25, 2012, preliminary hearing, San Fernando Superior Court Judge Shari Kreisler Silver ruled that prosecutors had presented sufficient evidence to hold the three for trial.

The three are charged with killing Alejandro Sanchez Torrez, 31, who was shot in front of his 7-year-old son after he stepped in to help a man being robbed at a Canyon Country strip mall on Oct. 31, 2011.

All three men have been in custody since their arrests. McGhee and Edwards both were 18 at the time of their arrests; Higgs was 17.

In October, at the two-year anniversary of the shooting, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shiara Dávila-Morales explained why it was taking so long for the trial to begin.

“It’s a three-defendant, multiple-count case,” Dávila-Morales told The Signal. “There is a great deal of preparation involved, and there have been procedural delays that are common for complex cases.”

During the 2012 preliminary hearing for the three, prosecutors alleged that Higgs was the shooter in Torrez’ killing.

A witness, the robbery victim Torrez tried to help, testified at the hearing that he was shot in the leg before Torrez stepped in and was killed.

 

 

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