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To Pay Her Defense Bill, Ventura County Will Auction House of Woman Who Killed 3 Sons

June 12, 2003|Lynne Barnes | Times Staff Writer

The former Santa Rosa Valley home of Socorro "Cora" Caro, convicted in 2001 of shooting three of her sons to death as they slept in their beds, may soon go on the auction block to help Ventura County recoup the $330,000 cost to defend her.

The county's notice of intent to sell the house came as a shock to Caro's ex-husband, Dr. Xavier Caro, who moved back into the Santa Rosa Valley home in December, three years after Cora Caro killed the boys and then apparently shot herself.

Cora Caro owes the county for legal services provided by the public defender's office, said Assistant County Counsel Matthew Smith. That includes $307,250 for the actual defense, plus accrued interest.

The home, built in 1992, has 4,800 square feet, a four-car garage and a pool and sits on eight acres. It is assessed at $773,000, but its market value is more than $1 million.

Xavier and Cora Caro were unhappily married in November 1999 when, after an argument, he went to his Northridge office, then returned home to find Cora bleeding from an apparently self-inflicted head wound and three of their four sons dead. The youngest boy, then 13-month-old Gabriel, was unharmed.

A trial in 2001 resulted in Cora Caro's conviction and death sentence. She is now in Chowchilla state prison pending an automatic appeal.

Auctioning the house wasn't the county's first choice, Smith said, but it wants its money.

Besides the Santa Rosa Valley home, the Caros owned a riverfront house in Stanislaus County, he said. Dr. Caro is a rheumatologist with an office in Northridge, and Cora Caro was a former manager there.

"We're just trying to recover the cost from an otherwise wealthy person," Smith said, pointing out that the county is suffering budget problems.

"It's a pretty good chunk of change."

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