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Sanchez Wants Murder Case Dismissed

Ventura County

Courts: The Simi Valley man's lawyers say evidence of prior sexual assaults were improperly introduced at a hearing.

July 09, 2002|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lawyers for a Simi Valley serial rapist accused of killing a woman during a kidnapping and rape attempt urged a Ventura County judge Monday to dismiss the case.

Deputy public defenders Neil Quinn and Jan Helfrich argued that prosecutors should not have been allowed to present evidence of Vincent Sanchez's prior sex assaults during a monthlong preliminary hearing in the murder case.

Sanchez, 31, a Simi Valley handyman, has admitted to raping seven women and assaulting three others over a five-year span.

But he has denied killing 20-year-old Moorpark resident and community college student Megan Barroso during a kidnapping and rape attempt.

Barroso's bullet-ridden car was found abandoned near a freeway overpass in Moorpark on July 5, 2001. Her body was found a month later in a ravine near Simi Valley.

Prosecutors contend that Sanchez forced Barroso off the highway, shot up her car and tried to rape her before she died from a gunshot wound in the abdomen. They are seeking the death penalty. Defense lawyers say there is no evidence of a rape attempt.

At a court hearing Monday, Quinn argued that testimony about prior rapes by Sanchez amounted to improper character evidence and should have been kept out of the preliminary hearing in April.

Quinn said that prosecutors used the evidence to prop up their theory that Sanchez killed Barroso during an attempted rape. The same evidence was used to support a charge of attempted kidnapping for sexual purposes involving a 21-year-old Simi Valley woman, he said.

The woman testified that nine months before Barroso's slaying, Sanchez had tried to ram his truck into her car as she drove home from work.

Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Dee Corona argued that the evidence was properly admitted and supports the theory that Sanchez was gradually becoming more brazen in his attacks on women.

Defense lawyers are also challenging the manner in which the criminal case was filed, and they want specific charges dismissed.

Superior Court Judge Vincent J. O'Neill Jr. is expected to issue a written ruling later this week.

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