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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Teenagers Plead Not Guilty in Family Stabbings

August 12, 2000

WHITTIER — Sixteen-year-old Monica Diaz and her teenage boyfriend pleaded not guilty Friday in the July stabbings that injured her mother and killed her father, a sister and two brothers.

The Superior Court courtroom was filled with residents of Pico Rivera, where the popular family lives. Diaz and her boyfriend, 17-year-old Michael Naranjo, have been charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. As teenagers, they are not eligible for the death penalty but face mandatory sentences of life without parole.

Naranjo held his head high as a public defender entered his plea. Standing 10 feet to his left, Diaz shook her arms, wiggled her ponytail and stared straight ahead during the five-minute hearing.

She didn't look once at her mother.

Wheelchair-bound Sylvia Flores--who adopted Diaz, her niece, as a toddler--sat in the rear of the courtroom, sobbing and holding her hand over her mouth and nose. She lost her husband, Richard Flores; son Richard Jr., 17; daughter Sylvia, 13; and son Matthew, 10, in the 1 a.m. July 21 attack inside the family's home. Two other daughters, Esperanza Flores and Laura Reta, were unharmed.

Sylvia Flores and a crowd of relatives left without speaking to reporters.

Diaz and Naranjo, who would have been seniors at El Rancho High this fall, are being held without bail, a district attorney spokeswoman said.

Lawyers will return to court Sept. 19 to schedule a preliminary hearing.

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