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D.A. Case Iffy, Sanchez Jury Told

Defense begins closing arguments in the trial of a handyman accused of killing and trying to rape a Moorpark College student.

July 23, 2003|Tracy Wilson | Times Staff Writer

Attorneys for murder defendant Vincent Sanchez urged jurors Tuesday not to be swayed by emotional testimony or speculative theories as they decide whether the serial rapist killed a young woman during an alleged sexual assault.

Sanchez, 32, an unemployed handyman convicted of 11 sex assaults, is accused of shooting a 20-year-old Moorpark College student as she drove home, abducting her from a bullet-riddled car and trying to rape her before she died.

Sanchez could face a death sentence if jurors find him guilty of first-degree murder committed during an attempted rape and kidnapping.

Prosecutors wrapped up their closing arguments Tuesday morning, and defense attorneys began their summation in the afternoon, reminding jurors that their client remained innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

As he has done since the start of the trial, Chief Deputy Public Defender Neil Quinn conceded that Sanchez shot Megan Barroso on July 5, 2001. But he told jurors there was no hard evidence of a sexual assault -- only a speculative prosecution theory.

Prosecutors contended Sanchez followed Barroso as she drove home, tried to run her off the road and shot up her car so he could kidnap and rape her.

Barroso died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Her partly clothed body was found in a ravine near Simi Valley a month after her abandoned car was found with the engine running on New Los Angeles Avenue in Moorpark.

Prosecutor Dee Corona told jurors Tuesday that bloodstains in Barroso's car and Sanchez's truck proved she was alive after the shooting and the victim of a kidnapping.

The coroner was unable to determine whether Barroso had been sexually assaulted. But Corona argued that Sanchez's history as a serial rapist and the fact that Barroso's pants were never found strongly suggested he had tried to rape her.

Quinn did not address the murder, kidnapping and attempted rape charges at length Tuesday. He is expected to continue his argument today.

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