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Ventura County

Coroner Unable to Say if Slain Student Was Raped


The remains of Moorpark College student Megan Barroso were so badly decomposed that there is no way to determine whether she was sexually assaulted before she died, a coroner testified Wednesday.

Ventura County Medical Examiner Ronald O'Halloran told a judge at a preliminary hearing for Barroso's alleged killer that the 20-year-old Moorpark woman likely died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

O'Halloran found two pieces of a bullet lodged inside Barroso's remains during an autopsy, and bullet holes in her clothes matched wounds to her body.

The coroner said Barroso probably lived for several hours after being shot because the bullet fragments appeared to have missed her kidneys and aorta.

O'Halloran's opinion on the time of death is consistent with testimony offered by two other medical experts.

Barroso was reported missing after her bullet-riddled car was found abandoned near a freeway overpass in the early morning hours of July 5. Her remains were recovered a month later in a canyon near Simi Valley.

Prosecutors contend that Vincent Sanchez, a 31-year-old Simi Valley handyman, shot Barroso, then kidnapped and sexually assaulted her before she died.

They are seeking the death penalty.

But defense attorneys say there is no evidence of rape, and they have tried to show that Barroso could have died almost immediately after being shot.

O'Halloran acknowledged on cross-examination that he cannot rule out that bullet fragments hit Barroso's kidney and resulted in death within minutes. But he called the scenario unlikely.

O'Halloran said he could not examine Barroso's body for sexual trauma because of decomposition. He testified that she was found wearing only a T-shirt and panties.

Testimony is scheduled to resume today in Ventura County Superior Court.

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