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Van Buren Trial Expected After James Wavers Again

May 27, 1994|KENNEDY COSGROVE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VENTURA — Leodes Van Buren will likely stand trial on a felony weapons charge even though his girlfriend--the key witness in the case--changed her story Thursday and testified that the Newbury Park High football player did not fire a shot into her home last month, Van Buren's attorney said.

At a preliminary hearing in Ventura County Superior Court, Marcie James, mother of Van Buren's 2-year-old daughter, said she previously implicated Van Buren because she was angry at him.

"She said (Thursday) that some other guy pulled out the gun and shot the door, that it was not Leodes," said John Miller, Van Buren's attorney.

Van Buren has said the same thing since the day after the April 8 incident in Newbury Park.

But Judge Herbert Curtis scheduled an arraignment June 9 in Superior Court, based mainly on Van Buren's and James' original testimony that he fired the shot. A trial date will be set that day.

"That's what I expected," Miller said. "The prosecutor just has to put forth some evidence that a crime was possibly committed and the suspect (Van Buren) may have some connection to the crime."

Van Buren was arrested last month and subsequently charged with one count of shooting into an inhabited dwelling, a felony charge that carries a maximum penalty of seven years in state prison.

But Van Buren said the day after his arrest that a companion actually pulled the trigger, and James corroborated his story. However, she has changed her story at least twice since then.

According to Miller, she testified Thursday that she and Van Buren quarreled before Van Buren's companion fired a shot from a handgun into the back door of the James' home. No one was injured.

James testified that Van Buren then told her, "I'm going to take the rap to show you how much I love you," Miller said.

Van Buren called a 911 emergency operator and reported that he fired the shot, and later told the arresting officer the same thing.

James, Western State Conference softball pitcher of the year at Moorpark College, told a detective that day that Van Buren fired the shot. Subsequent reversals have been linked to the state of her relationship with Van Buren, Miller said.

"She was mad at him because he had gone out with another girl," Miller said. "The two times she told the story that it was Leodes Van Buren (who fired the shot), she said it was to try and get back at him."

Van Buren did not testify at Thursday's hearing.

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