PRESCOTT - Cecilio Cruz, indicted on counts of murder and manslaughter in the 1997 killing of his girlfriend, Marisol Gonzalez and her unborn son, on Thursday, Feb. 12, successfully argued for a new grand jury to hear his case.
Cruz and Gonzalez were both 17 when she was killed.
Police said the two had been dating, and Gonzalez found out she was pregnant with Cruz's child after they broke up. Her body was discovered in an alley near her home on March 25, 1997, the same day she was set to have labor induced to deliver her baby boy. She had been shot in the face. Police have alleged that Cruz spoke with Gonzalez by phone the previous night.
Cruz was indicted in September on a second-degree murder charge in the death of Gonzalez and a manslaughter charge for the death of her unborn son.
Grand juries, whose proceedings are kept secret unless there's a legal challenge, work differently than the way a case is heard before a trial jury.
The prosecution, represented here by a Deputy County Attorney, presents all the evidence and is charged with giving the grand jurors a fair view of both sides. Witnesses are usually called. If the grand jurors believe there's enough evidence to indict, or charge the defendant, they will issue a finding of a "true bill."
A lawyer may argue for remand, or a return to the grand jury, if a mistake was made.
In Cruz's case, Public Defender John Napper argued that a law enforcement officer testifying before the grand jury made an unreasonable leap and testified outside his expertise.
The officer said he had spoken to several teens at the time of the murder as he did interviews at a school, and found that many asked, "How did that baby die if (Gonzalez) was shot in the head?"
That, the officer said, led him to the conclusion that Cruz felt the same way, Napper said, calling that testimony "silly."
Napper also questioned why the grand jurors were not told there was a witness to the shooting who said the people described as being Cruz and Gonzales allegedly seen in an alley were not.
"They have to show Marisol was killed in that alley," he said. "It's inconceivable that that's not relevant to the grand jury."
Finally, he argued that Cruz was asking police a question about Gonzalez and the baby, not making a statement that the baby was still alive.
Deputy County Attorney Steve Young said, "The important point is that Mr. Cruz makes statements that the baby is OK when he has not been informed at that point in the interview" of either Gonzalez or the baby's status.
Superior Court Judge Jennifer Campbell agreed that the case should be sent back to the grand jury, and after Napper noted that grand juries often set bond amounts, said she would make sure that they didn't change the current bond.
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