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Attorney for Cinco Seeking Conviction on Lesser Count

February 18, 1988

WESTMINSTER — Painting a picture of a man reeling from drug ingestion, the attorney for a Spring Valley resident charged with killing two police officers asked jurors Wednesday to convict his client of second-degree murder.

Attorney John Cotsirilos asked the Orange County jury to reject a first-degree murder charge against Joselito Cinco, 28, accused of gunning down the officers Sept. 14, 1984.

In rebuttal, Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Neely requested a verdict of first-degree murder, saying Cinco "snuffed out the lives of two human beings like a cold, calculating killer."

After hearing lengthy instructions from Superior Court Judge Luis Cardenas, jurors were sent home Wednesday and will begin deliberations this morning.

San Diego Police Officers Kimberly Tonahill, 24, and Timothy Ruopp, 31, were killed by Cinco in the Grape Street section of Balboa Park after encountering Cinco and some teen-age girls suspected of drinking.

Cotsirilos said Cinco had ingested cocaine, marijuana and speed before the fatal shootings.

'Deliberate' Killings

"Is this the behavior of someone acting on careful thought?" Cotsirilos asked. "What occurred in that park was someone acting on the moment. What Mr. Cinco did not do was deliberate and premeditate these killings."

Neely quoted a prosecution witness who testified that Cinco once remarked, "I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a cop."

"This defendant wore a gun that he was ready to use," Neely said. "He knew exactly what he was doing."

Neely said Cinco asked police after his arrest, "What's my bail?"--to which Neely remarked, "What nerve!"

"The facts are dead-set against this defendant," the prosecutor said.

The trial was moved to Orange County in 1985 after it was determined that pretrial publicity might have prevented a fair trial in San Diego.

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