Former Harvard University student Jose Razo maintained Tuesday that a childhood friend was the real "ski mask bandit" who carried out a string of holdups that Razo is charged with committing while home in Orange County on school breaks.
Razo's claim, which came as he took the stand for the second day at his trial in an attempt to repudiate an earlier confession, drew skepticism from the prosecutor, who said Razo was doing nothing more than "reaching out and naming a scapegoat."
On Monday, Razo had testified that a friend from his hometown of La Habra, whom he refused to name, was the actual criminal whom police had dubbed the "ski mask bandit."
But under pressure from Superior Court Judge Jean Rheinheimer on Tuesday, Razo relented and said the man who committed the robberies is named Richard Longoria, about 27 years old and a resident of La Habra.
The prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Ravi Mehta, said in interviews outside the Santa Ana court that such a person exists and that investigators from the Orange County district attorney's office are trying to locate him. Mehta said Longoria, if found, may be subpoenaed to testify in Razo's trial.
Razo, 22, is the key witness in his own defense. He is charged with 10 armed robberies in Orange and Los Angeles counties between December, 1985, and June, 1987, in which a total of about $27,000 was taken. If convicted of all the counts, the former honor student and star football player at Anaheim's Servite High School could be sentenced to 21 years in prison, Mehta said.
Razo said he was academically interested in the crime because he was taking a course at Harvard in 1986-87 entitled "Crime and Human Nature." According to Razo's defense attorney, John Barnett, Razo was gathering material in La Habra on why a disproportionate percentage of Mexican-Americans are convicted of crimes.