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Novel Murder Plea Weighed

July 13, 2002

A Ventura County Superior Court judge is considering whether serial rapist Vincent Sanchez can plead guilty to murder without specifying the degree of the crime.

Sanchez, 31, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted rape and attempted kidnapping as well as two special circumstance allegations in connection with the July 2001 slaying of 20-year-old Moorpark College student Megan Barroso.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

On Friday, Sanchez, who has previously pleaded guilty to numerous rapes and sexual assaults, appeared in Ventura County Superior Court for an arraignment on the charges related to Barroso's slaying.

Sanchez's lawyer said the defendant was prepared to plead guilty to murder and allow the judge to determine the degree.

But prosecutors objected, saying there is no legal precedent for such a plea.

Defense lawyer Neil Quinn argued that the law does allow for such a procedure and requested that Judge Ken Riley research the matter before ruling.

Riley agreed and postponed the arraignment until Tuesday.

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