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Defense Seeks to Void Murder Case

January 22, 2003|Jose Cardenas and Steve Berry | Times Staff Writers

The defense attorney for a man accused of killing his wife, the daughter of a former California state senator, has asked a judge to dismiss the case, alleging that a deputy district attorney who was once leading the investigation illegally tape-recorded the defendant.

In a motion filed at Norwalk Superior Court, defense attorney Henry Salcido asked that, at minimum, the Los Angeles district attorney's office be recused from trying the case against Bruce Koklich.

Salcido alleges that Deputy Dist. Atty. Greg Dohi, who initially handled the case, told a former colleague of Koklich to record a conversation between the two of them while Koklich was out on bail.

Salcido complained that prosecutors already knew Koklich had an attorney and that it was improper for them to record him without benefit of counsel. "I think ... they have lost it, because they are no longer willing to play by the rules," Salcido said in an interview. "They stepped over the line."

Officials at the district attorney's office said they will fight Salcido's allegations in court. The motion is scheduled to be heard Feb. 3.

"The remedy that he is seeking certainly isn't the proper remedy," said Eleanor Hunter, the deputy district attorney handling the case. "I don't think that it's even close to being grounds to dismiss." Dohi could not be reached for comment.

In August 2001, Jana Carpenter-Koklich, 41, daughter of former state Sen. Paul Carpenter (D-Cypress), did not show up for work at the Long Beach real estate business where the couple worked.

Bruce Koklich, 43, was arrested almost a year later outside his Long Beach office after traces of her blood were found in their Lakewood home and in her abandoned sport utility vehicle. The body has never been found. Koklich has since posted bail.

The trial has been delayed as Salcido prepared his motion for dismissal.

If the district attorney's office was recused from the case, the state attorney general's office could take over.

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