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Castro loses lawyer

• New murder trial may begin in August

Posted: May 29, 2008 12:55 a.m.
Updated: July 30, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Esperanza Castro's defense attorney, Peter Korn (right), filed a motion Wednesday to withdraw as counsel of record, requesting that the court allow him to cease representing Castro (left) as her new murder trial moves forward.

SAN FERNANDO - The murder trial against Esperanza Castro will move forward after a Superior Court judge assigned the case to a public defender at a pre-trial conference Wednesday.

Defense attorney Peter Korn filed a motion to withdraw as counsel of record, requesting that the court allow him to cease representing Castro as her new murder trial moves forward.

Superior Court Judge Burt Pines granted Korn's motion and assigned a public defender to the matter, stating that the motion was "meritorious."

The motion comes less than two weeks after Pines approved a request filed by the county District Attorney's office to order a new murder trial against Castro, three weeks after her first trial ended in a hung jury.

A public defender was not selected, though a representative from the county Public Defender's office was present at the pre-trial conference. After Pines approved the motion to withdraw, she was handed a box full of discovery materials from the first trial.

Korn, a solo practitioner, said he was unable to continue representing Castro in the second murder trial as the case prevented him from attending to his other clients.

Castro, 45, was on trial for allegedly killing her husband in the bedroom of their Canyon Country home on March 22, 2006.

Castro remained in custody after the Apr. 23 verdict, when the jury in her trial revealed to the judge that it was hung after 20 hours of deliberation.

After the verdict was announced, Deputy District Attorney Paula Gonzales indicated to the court that her office would prepare for another trial against Castro. The jury of seven women and five men was not able to unanimously agree that Gonzales, indeed, proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Castro killed her husband.

On March 23, 2006 Ramon Castro was found dead in the bed of his pickup truck, which had been abandoned under the Highway 14 overpass on Sierra Highway.

During her first trial, it was learned that Castro had called deputies the night before to report a burglary at her home.
The start date of the second trial was initially set for no more than 60 days after the next hearing, which is scheduled for June 10 in Dept. J of the San Fernando courthouse.

A public defender will be assigned to represent Castro before that date. If there are no delays, the second trial may start no later than Aug. 10.


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