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EL CAJON SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

Lawyer for Santee Suspect Plans to Challenge Prop. 21

March 23, 2001|H.G. REZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Charles Andrew Williams, accused of killing two students and wounding 13 people in the town of Santee, will make his second court appearance this month on Monday, but the diminutive alleged gunman will still not enter a plea.

Linda Miller, spokeswoman for the San Diego County public defender's office, said Thursday that Williams' lawyer will instead announce plans to challenge the constitutionality of Proposition 21, the ballot initiative passed last year that allows the 15-year-old shooting suspect to be tried in adult court.

"There won't be an arraignment. We are going to challenge Proposition 21," said Miller.

Williams is charged with killing Randy Gordon, 17, and Bryan Zuckor, 14, and wounding 13 people on the Santana High School campus March 5. He surrendered to four sheriff's deputies and an off-duty San Diego police officer in a student restroom after firing about 30 rounds from a .22-caliber revolver.

He later told investigators that he had one bullet left and intended to use it on himself.

Monday's court hearing will be in El Cajon Superior Court before Judge Herbert Exarhos. Miller said Exarhos is expected to set a date to hear arguments on the challenge to Proposition 21.

Once the judge rules on the challenge, whichever side loses is expected to appeal to a state appellate court--a step that is likely to further delay a trial.

"This case is in the very preliminary stage," Randy Mize, Williams' public defender, said in a brief telephone interview. The defense "literally has hundreds of documents to review and legal research to do."

On Thursday, Miller said the number of witnesses that the defense expects to contact could be more than 1,000, including Santana High School students and staff, as well as relatives of the victims.

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