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West Ventura County Focus

VENTURA : Suspects' Fate Rests on Cause of Death

October 22, 1994|BARBARA MURPHY

The fate of two murder suspects hinges on the determination of cause of death for a Ventura man who died one day after being beaten and robbed of $15.

As trial began Thursday, Deputy Dist. Atty. Terence M. Kilbride said Thomas Shoop suffered a ruptured spleen because he was kicked repeatedly by Everado Mondragon and Jose Sanchez when they robbed him Feb. 20 in the Ventura Avenue area.

Attorneys for Mondragon, 35, and Sanchez, 24, say Shoop suffered the injury several hours later, when he fell in his bathroom while drunk.

The question will be decided by Superior Court Judge Charles W. Campbell Jr., who is hearing the trial without a jury.

Mondragon and Sanchez, who have pleaded not guilty, are charged with first-degree murder and robbery. Kilbride said Shoop called police after he was robbed and later identified the defendants as the ones who stole his $15.

Shoop declined medical treatment at that time and again in the early morning hours of Feb. 21, when he complained of pain.

His roommate, Richard Graham, told police he heard a loud noise in the bathroom that night but did not investigate. He later found a broken toilet seat in the bathroom and fecal matter smeared on the floor.

Graham said he left Shoop in his apartment about 6 a.m. on Feb. 21. A door-to-door solicitor found Shoop dead in the residence about 12 hours later.

Defense attorney Charles Cassy, who represents Sanchez, said he will contest the cause of the injury that killed Shoop.

"They really can't say for a medical certainty" what caused the injury, Cassy said. "The victim got very, very drunk, fell down in the bathroom and broke the toilet seat."

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