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Racial Motives Charged in Fatal Beating : Crime: Three white suspects are accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a black woman. The victim's head was pounded into the pavement as a crowd--and her child--watched, police say.

September 08, 1993|RENE LYNCH and GREG HERNANDEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

FULLERTON — Three people accused of beating a woman to death in a La Habra shopping center parking lot were charged Tuesday with racially motivated involuntary manslaughter.

John Richard Collins, 25, of El Monte, Rebecca Luker, 22, of Whittier and a 17-year-old La Habra girl who told police she is a skinhead were charged with the fatal attack on Tina Roxanne Rodriguez, 26.

The beating occurred Thursday afternoon as 10 to 20 people in the parking lot watched. Police expressed surprise that no one stepped forward to help.

Authorities are still awaiting an autopsy report, but they said early indications are that Rodriguez's head was pounded into the pavement as one of her four children watched from an automobile. The attack occurred after a traffic dispute in the parking lot, police said. Rodriguez reportedly confronted the three suspects after they cut off the car in which she was a passenger.

A shouting match began, and Luker and the teen-ager began beating Rodriguez, police said. Two of the defendants yelled racial slurs during the attack, police said. Rodriguez was black and the defendants are white.

Collins and Luker kissed and embraced as they were brought to Fullerton Municipal Court on Tuesday. Prosecutors plan to ask that the teen-ager--whose name has been withheld because of her age--be tried as an adult, Deputy District Atty. Lewis R. Rosenblum said.

Luker's uncle said Tuesday that she is not prejudiced and does not have a violent history. He said she called from jail to say that the victim began the fight and then fell and hit her head.

"She said it was all an accident, that no one smashed that woman's head," Larry Luker of Whittier said. "From what we understand, this woman (Rodriguez) was mouthing off really bad. Becky told us that she (Rodriguez) started the whole thing."

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