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Lawyers Want Separate Trials for Pair in Slaying

November 21, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Attorneys representing defendants Monica Diaz and Michael Naranjo, accused of killing her uncle and three cousins, said in court Wednesday that they plan to request separate trials for the two 19-year-olds.

In the early hours of July 21, 2000, authorities say, Naranjo sneaked into the family's four-bedroom home in a middle-class neighborhood in Pico Rivera and, with Diaz's help, stabbed Richard Flores, 42, his wife, Sylvia, 39, and three of their children: Sylvia, 13; Matthew, 10; and Richard Jr., 17. Only the mother survived. Diaz and her sister, who was not harmed that night, had been raised by the Floreses since Diaz was 8.

At the request of the defense attorneys, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Knupp set the next hearing in the case for Feb. 6 at the Norwalk Courthouse.

"I believe separate trials are almost invariably a fairer way to give each defendant due process," Charles Cervantes, the deputy public defender representing Naranjo, said after the hearing.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Craig Hum, the prosecutor in the case, said he would oppose any motion to try Naranjo and Diaz separately. The teenagers are being held at the Twin Towers jail in Los Angeles.

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