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Trial Date in Huber Killing Set for October Next Year : Courts: Attorneys for handyman suspected of murdering the former Northridge woman will have time to prepare for possible death-penalty case.

October 11, 1994|RENE LYNCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — It probably will be a year--if not longer--before a handyman goes on trial on charges of sexually assaulting and murdering a former Northridge woman and keeping her nude body in a freezer for more than three years.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Kathleen E. O'Leary has set an Oct. 2, 1995, trial date for John J. Famalaro to give attorneys sufficient time to prepare for what may be a death penalty case.

Famalaro, 37, is accused of kidnaping, sexually assaulting and bludgeoning Denise Huber, 23, of Newport Beach after her car broke down on an Orange County freeway in June, 1991. Famalaro, a former Orange County resident, was arrested in July after authorities found Huber's body in a freezer in a stolen rental truck parked in his driveway in Prescott, Ariz.

Defense attorneys say they need the time--and may even ask for more--to examine thousands of documents and other items seized from Famalaro's cluttered home. Deputy Public Defender Leonard Gumlia said he also anticipates tracking down 400 to 500 people who may have known Famalaro in the past to begin building a defense.

"It's a big job," Gumlia said.

Also adding to the need for more preparation time, Gumlia said, is that complex DNA evidence will likely become an issue in the case because authorities say Huber was sexually assaulted, based on the discovery of semen in her frozen body.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Dennis Bauer, a DNA expert at the Orange County district attorney's office, is joining Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher J. Evans in prosecuting the case.

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