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Death May Be Sought for Suspect in Slaying

Man who police say killed a Corona woman and her grandson to face double murder charge.

May 06, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

The Riverside County district attorney's office on Monday determined that Jose Luis Elias, arrested last week for allegedly murdering the 13-year-old brother and the grandmother of his ex-girlfriend in Corona, should be eligible for the death penalty.

Dist. Atty. Grover Trask will decide if his office will formally seek a death sentence after Elias is arraigned.

Deputy Dist. Atty. John Davis said the charges against Elias will include a special circumstance for double murder, which makes the killings a death-penalty offense. Elias will be charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for his alleged role in Thursday night's fatal stabbings of Hope Ragland and her grandson, Austin Perez, 13, and the beating of Ragland's husband, Davis said.

Elias, 24, is scheduled to be arraigned today, but the proceeding is expected to be delayed because he has yet to retain an attorney from the county's public defender's office, Davis said.

Law enforcement sources say that when Elias was questioned, he gave them a chilling account of the killings.

The sources said Elias, who had dated Ragland's granddaughter, told authorities he was visiting the home even though his ex-girlfriend, college student Veronica Haft, was studying in Europe.

Elias told investigators from the Corona Police Department that he and Ragland began arguing and that she grabbed a knife from the kitchen. Elias told investigators that he took the knife from Ragland and stabbed her, authorities said. Elias said he stabbed the boy because he attacked him with a skateboard.

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