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Ventura County | IN BRIEF / VENTURA

State Agrees to Take Over Local Murder Case

November 15, 2001|From Times Staff Reports

The state attorney general's office has agreed to prosecute a Ventura murder case in which the defendant alleges unethical behavior by local prosecutors, authorities said Wednesday.

Bridget Callahan is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly helping two skinhead gang members kill 17-year-old Nicole Hendrix in 1998. Callahan says attorneys and investigators for the district attorney's office reneged on a promise of immunity from prosecution in return for details about the killing.

In a statement, Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury said the lead prosecutor, Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Ron Bamieh, has been removed from the case.

Bamieh and his supervisor, Chief Assistant Dist. Atty. Greg Totten, are opponents in a race to replace Bradbury, who is retiring next year. Bradbury took both men off their pending homicide cases to keep ongoing trials from becoming political issues.

"Despite this move, the district attorney believes that the importance of maintaining public confidence in the outcome of this matter required this referral," Bradbury wrote in the statement Wednesday.

Last week, Callahan's attorney, Joseph O'Neill, asked Ventura County prosecutors to bow out of the case. His motion in Superior Court was unopposed by the district attorney's office , which denied the allegations but cited "at least an appearance of a conflict."

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