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UPDATE: Three bound over for trial in Halloween murder case

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Posted: July 25, 2012 1:14 p.m.
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:21 p.m.
 

 

SAN FERNANDO — Three young men charged with murder in the Halloween shooting of a Canyon Country man were ordered Wednesday to stand trial on all criminal counts filed against them.

After more than a week of testimony at a preliminary hearing in San Fernando Superior Court, Judge Shari Kreisler Silver ordered the three accused to stand trial for the death of Alejandro Sanchez Torrez on Oct. 31.

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

The three accused — Diamonte Jerome McGhee and Eric Michael Edwards, both 18, and Branden Travaughn Higgs, 17 — are expected to appear back in court to begin their murder trial next month.

“The court believes there is more than sufficient evidence to hold each of the defendants to answer to each of the charged crimes against them,” Silver said in handing down her decision.

The three accused men, who have remained behind bars since their arrests shortly after the shooting, showed no sign of emotion during the judge’s statement.

About a dozen spectators immediately filed out of the courtroom. Some wept and others hugged each other.
Assistant District Attorney Bradley Lieberman capped six days of testimony by summing up the points he’s been making since the preliminary hearing began July 10.

In recapping the evidence supporting 18 felony counts filed against McGhee — identified as the trigger-puller — 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.

“We know that the murderers wore three different colored shirts — a white shirt, a red shirt and a black shirt,” he said. “We know that the white shirt was worn by Mr. McGhee.

“We know Mr. McGhee had a gun because he was showing the gun to Skyler Hudson,” he said.

“Everybody who was with McGhee knew he had the ability to inflict death.”

Hudson, 17, testified he saw McGhee showing off a gun and a bullet during a party the weekend before the shooting.

According to Lieberman, McGhee discussed “hitting a lick” — a street term referring to a robbery — in the 48 hours leading up to the fatal shooting.

On Oct. 29, McGhee tried to shoot and kill a man whom Lieberman described Wednesday as “scared to death.”
McGhee also used a gun to assault four other men before shooting Torrez and the robbery victim, Ricardo Sandoval, as he lay on the ground, he said.

About the other two accused, Lieberman said: “They knew what was going to happen.”

Repeated attempts on Oct. 31 to shoot and kill Sandoval — robbed of a wallet and Nintendo DS game — led to a physical fight between victim and the three accused.

The reason Sandoval was not shot and killed, Lieberman said, was because McGhee’s gun jammed repeatedly.
It fire successfully, however, when Torrez came to Sandoval’s aid, he said.

Torrez was shot point blank in the chest in front of his son, Lieberman told court.

The three accused are expected to be arraigned Aug. 8 on several felony charges including murder, attempted murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

jholt@the-signal.com
661-287-5527

 

 

 

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