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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Santa Rosa Valley

Wrongful-Death Suit Against Caro Stayed

May 31, 2000|TRACY WILSON

A Ventura County judge Tuesday suspended a wrongful-death lawsuit against murder defendant Socorro "Cora" Caro in the Nov. 22 slaying of three of her four children.

The case will remain on hold until the conclusion of Caro's pending murder trial in criminal court.

Caro, 43, was sued by her estranged husband, Dr. Xavier Caro, three weeks after she allegedly shot three of her young sons as they slept at the couple's Santa Rosa Valley home.

The lawsuit alleges that the children, ages 5, 8 and 11, died as a result of Socorro Caro's "intentional, reckless and / or negligent conduct."

The lawsuit seeks damages to compensate Xavier Caro for the loss of his sons, as well as property damage, funeral costs and lost wages.

The Northridge physician stopped working after the shooting to care for his surviving son, Gabriel, 1 1/2.

The civil matter was on track for a jury trial. But earlier this month, Socorro Caro's lawyer filed a motion to stay, or suspend, the case until after the criminal proceedings.

Agoura Hills attorney Rand Pinsky argued in his motion that Socorro Caro cannot be forced to defend herself in civil court while the criminal case is pending because it could compromise her rights against self-incrimination.

Xavier Caro's Santa Monica civil attorney did not fight the request.

But at a hearing Tuesday, Keith Sipprelle asked Judge Barbara Lane to lift the stay if Socorro Caro either pleads guilty or waives her 5th Amendment rights by testifying in the criminal trial. Lane agreed.

The matter is set for a Dec. 4 status conference.

Meanwhile, Socorro Caro is scheduled to appear for arraignment in criminal court next week. Lawyers hope to set a date for the murder trial at that time.

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