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Memories haunt Pipho family after 2007 murder

Mother of slain Canyon Country man struggles to move on

Posted: July 19, 2009 9:18 p.m.
Updated: July 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Cindy Pipho dreads returning to Santa Clarita.

Memories of her brutally slain 20-year-old son, Joshua Pipho, haunt her when she makes the drive from San Diego, where she moved with her family in late 2008.

Joshua was buried in Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall.

He was the victim of one of Santa Clarita Valley's most heinous crimes in recent years - stabbed, beaten, then intentionally run over with a car during a November 2007 party in Stevenson Ranch.

"It's very hard - very hard to go up there," Cindy Pipho said last week. "There's just so much of him there."

The former Canyon Country resident and her relatives have grown impatient with the slow-moving trial of her son's accused killer, 20-year-old Michael Dean Stephens, who is currently behind bars.

Meanwhile, the rest of Joshua Pipho's family has finished a planned move to San Diego. He was supposed to be there with them, his mother said. He would have worked for an audio-visual-system installation company with his father.

But time passed.

One of his three brothers had a son in March.

The Canyon High School baseball team, on which Joshua Pipho played, honored him with a small bronze plaque outside their dugout.

What would have been his 22nd birthday came and went on April 1.

"He's not here anymore," Cindy Pipho said, sobbing. "So the best thing we can do is go on with our lives and make him proud."

Joshua was slain Nov. 24, 2007, following a brawl at a house party in Stevenson Ranch.

He and his friend, Chad Weitz, saw a group of men vandalizing a vehicle after leaving a party in the 25200 block of Steinbeck Ave., authorities said.

A fight broke out, and Stephens allegedly stabbed Pipho, then drove over him with a car as he lay on the ground, prosecutors said. Weitz tried to help his friend, but Stephens allegedly hit him with the car, too, then got out and stabbed Weitz 17 times, puncturing a lung.

After being rushed to the hospital and given four blood transfusions, Weitz survived.

Prosecutors have charged Stephens with murder and attempted murder.

Stephens's trial date has seen delays as the defendant has swapped lawyers. His trial probably won't begin until at least the end of the year, Los Angeles County District Attorney's officials said.

Cindy Pipho said she doesn't expect to go to the trial. She already knows enough horrific details about the crime.

She doesn't want to see pictures of her son's brutalized body.

Instead, she thinks ahead to the day, she hopes, when Stephens is convicted in her son's death. She hopes it can help her begin to heal.

"I have things that go through my head every day that I think I want to say to (Stephens) on that day," she said. "How do you know what you're going to say when you get up there? I just know that a big piece of me is still missing.

"I know I'm never going to see him again," she said. "I don't know if it will ever get easier - if it does get easier."


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