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Murder Case Synopses 

Capital and Murder  Sample Cases


Olvera, J. Fresno County 1993-1994
A 23-year-old Mexican male charged with four
killings of Mexican males on two different
incidents, and other offenses. A capital case.
Uncooperative client. Multiple evaluations
required (seven). Competency, insanity, cultural
issues. Socio-cultural investigation performed 
in his native state in Mexico. Court testimony.
Outcome: LWOP.

DeHoyos, R. L. Orange County 1989-1993

A Mexican-American male charged with a capital
offense of kidnapping, raping and murdering a 
9-year-old Mexican female. A very notorious case,
high publicity, media  present through the two
trials. In the first trial, he was given the death
sentence by the jury, but the sentence was set
aside by the judge, a new trial ordered. Very
involved case, over twenty-five interviews of the
defendant over a four-year period. Multiple court
testimonies, including insanity hearings, guilt
phase and penalty phase.  Psychiatric issues,
Organic Brain Syndrome, cultural issues. A very
dramatic socio-cultural history was obtained,
encompassing four countries, several wives and
common-law wives, an escape from maximum
security in Texas, a voluntary return from the
Mexican border. Field trip to San Antonio, Texas
and interview of several Panamanian witnesses.
Witness preparation. Coordination of psychiatric
and neurological investigation. Outcome death
sentence. DeHoyos is in San Quentin on death
row going through the appeal processes.


Garner, A. Clatsop County, OR. 2000-2001

A gigantic white male charged with aggravated murder and rape of a female companion, arson and other felonies in a marooned boat he was using as a residence. When the police arrived, the boat was on fire and Mr. Garner was naked on deck, allegedly high on drugs and alcohol. The DA sought the Death Penalty and stated that Mr. Garner was a "poster child" for the death penalty. Psycho-social evaluation and socio-cultural investigation. Disputed court testimony. Guilty verdict, but no death penalty. LWOP.  

Delgadillo, F. H. San Joaquin County 1995

A 33-year-old Mexican male initially charged with
a capital offense, the murder of two Mexican
nationals. He left the U.S.A. and voluntarily
returned from Mexico to claim self-defense.
Borderline mentally retarded, cultural issues,
family clan issues. Manipulated confession. 
Court testimony. 

**Navarro-Caratachea, A  Washington Co. Oregon

A 38-year-old Mexican male, Michoacan, arguably 
androgynous, charged with aggravated murder 
of a woman in Oregon, a capital offense since
there was a previous felony murder conviction
of another woman in Texas in the 80s. Psychiatric
and cultural issues. Involved socio-cultural
investigation in Mexico. Unusual pre-trial
developments: meeting of the DA's Team and the
 Defense Team, with full disclosure  of findings
by defense expert witnesses . Plea bargaining. Competency
 issues at sentencing time. Death penalty avoided. 


Millan, M.  Tulare County 1999

A 29-year-old  Nahuatl Indian woman, Guerrero
Mex. Spanish second language, limited. First
degree murder of her infant child.  Cultural
defense. Court testimony. Hung Jury .  Plea
bargaining  to involuntary manslaughter, time served.

**Soto, G.B      Ventura County  1999

Mexican woman, from Sinaloa, charged with
killing her abusive and philandering husband.
Sensationalistic crime, she dismembered her
death husband's body  and transported the parts
to burn them under a county bridge. Initially a
capital case, went to jury trial as first degree
murder. Fascinating psychosocial  investigation 
in Mexico, both with victim's and defendant's
families and friends. Cultural issues, psychological
autopsy, battered wife syndrome . Court
testimony. LWOP avoided. 

Perez, P. R.  Washington Co, OR, 1999

A 20-year-old Zapotec Indian, Oaxaca, Mex.
Charged with the killing  of a Mexican friend
while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Cultural issues, involuntary intoxications,
attitudes toward  friends. 

Carvajal, N.   Mendocino County 2000-2001

A 16-year-old Mayan Indian from Yucatan Mexico charged with 1st degree murder and rape of a 71-year-old woman with strong community connections.  Notorious case.  Charged as adult.  Cultural issues.  Manipulated confession. Court testimony. 
Trial in a small, rural community avoided. 
 Plea of 2nd degree murder.  15 to life.

Zaragosa, O. Fresno County 1990

Mexican male charged with capital murder and
kidnapping of a Mexican male who he thought 
to be responsible for the murder of one of 
Mr. Zaragosa's aunts and the kidnapping and 
rape of another aunt. Cultural issues.  Family
honor. Competency and insanity issues.


Pantoja, Jorge.  Humboldt County CA 2002

Mexican male charged with the stabbing death of his common law wife. After stabbing her,  he stabbed himself gravely but survived by a prompt response from the local police. Cross-cultural evaluation. Psycho-social investigation, both in Northern California, and in his home town, Zapopan, in Jalisco, Mexico. Cultural issues. Consultations with defense counsel. Guilty. 32 to life.

Alvarado, J. E. San Diego County 1994

Mexican male, son of a reputed Baja California
"Don," co-defendant of an execution-style murder
of a husband and wife, drug dealers. A capital
offense. An eventful psychosocial history obtained
in Baja California, Mexico. Outcome:
LWOP in a plea bargain.

Velez, L. Sacramento County 1992

A Puerto Rican male charged with capital offense
in the shooting death of an armored truck guard,
and robbery. Cultural issues, psychosocial
investigation, mitigation issues.


Gomez, Martin.  Tulare County CA 2001

Mexican male, functional illiterate. Charged with the premeditated murder of a countryman who allegedly killed or was involved in the murders of three of Mr. Gomez family, including his father.  Questionable Miranda. Manipulated confession. Psychosocial investigation. Cultural issues. Court testimony.

Sixto, F. E. Kern County 1990-1991

A Mexican male originally sentenced to death in
1981 for the kidnapping, lascivious conduct and
murder of a 5-year -old boy. He spent almost ten
years in San Quentin on death row. Sentence was
overturned on appeal and second trial in 1991.
Psychiatric issues, Organic Brain Damage,
mentally retarded. Court testimony. Outcome: LWOP.

Garnica, J.Ventura County

A Guatemalan male originally charged with a
capital offense, the murder of another Guatemalan male with
 special circumstances, for profit. 
A fascinating psychosocial investigation in a
"non-recommended area" of Guatemala (because
of the guerrilla activity at the time) helped to
construct a psychological autopsy of the victim,
a former "mano blanca" (a government murder
squad) with allegedly thirty-five killings to his
name. The claim of self-defense by Mr. Garnica
was substantiated. Outcome: voluntary
manslaughter, three years.

Hernandez, F.C., Multnomah, Oregon 1996-2000

A 22-year-old Mexican male raised in a barrio with gangs and interracial fighting was charged with murder of two black Crips gang members.  A capital offense.  He and his family had been fired upon by the victims and their gang associates. Psychological history reveals a traumatic family background.  He pleaded to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years. 

 Salgado, Ramiro. Ventura County, CA 2001-2002 

An eighteen year old Mexican male, raised in USA as a teenager, was charged with felony murder for his alleged participation in a mob killing of another Mexican male, near Salgado's house.  He insisted through two trials that he had nothing to do with that murder. Five other co-defendants were found guilty before his first trial.  Psycho-social evaluation. Cross-cultural issues. False and  manipulated confession. Court testimonies. Hung jury in both trials .
Charges dismissed,

Soltero, J.L. San Mateo Co.  1995-1997

Mexican-American, raised in Mexico , charged
with killing a witness, a capital offense. Low IQ,
mitigation issues. Extensive psycho-social history.
Death penalty dropped.  

Ortiz, P. Riverside County, 1994-1998

22-year-old , Michoacan, Mexico. Charged with
killing an old black male, and steeling his car.
Manipulated confession, on a mentally deficient 
defendant. Sent to Patton State Hospital where he
was diagnosed  Paranoid Schizophrenic. Court
testimony. Plea bargaining, voluntary manslaughter.

Ayala-Gomez, A  Clackamas Co. Oregon 1999

 25-year-old Mexican male, Guerrero, charged
with murder by abuse of a 2-year-old boy,
aggravated murder, a capital offense. Also charge
with rape and sexual abuse of  minor female.  
He denied all the charges.  Circumstantial
evidence. Cultural issues. Court testimony.
Questionable pre-trial events and other  trial
issues warrant an appeal. Death penalty avoided.


Valencia, C. San Mateo County. 1997-1999

A Purepecha Indian from the Mexican State of Michoacan charged with murder and rape of a wealthy Hillsborough lady and other felonies. A capital offense. He left the country few days after the crime, but returned from Mexico on his own because he had "not killed the lady". In spite of indications that he could not have committed the crimes by himself, he refused to name his possible accomplices, possibly members of his own tribe. He attempted suicide while waiting for trial. Psychological evaluation and testing, socio-cultural investigation ( including a visit to his home town), consultations with defense team. LWOP.

Estrada, R. San Bernardino County 1990-1993

A 17 year old "marielito" Cuban charged with
murder, robbery, kidnapping and gang rape. 
he victims were three white women, a 15-year-old
girl was raped and murdered by a co-defendant. 
A high notoriety case. Outraged community.
Estrada has a long history of psychiatric illness 
in Cuba, forced by Castro into boats departing for
Key West, Florida. Attempts were made to
conduct a socio-cultural investigation in Cuba,
but the Castro government refused entry visas.
Multiple interviews of the  defendant.  Mildly
Mentally Retarded, illiterate, schizophrenic, with
frontal lobe injury. Court testimonies.

Martinez, M. Santa Clara County  1999-2001

25-year-old Mexican male with traumatic family history was charged with 1st degree murder of a housemate that insulted the memory of his dead mother.  Bio-psycho-social investigation in Mexico.  Cultural issues.  Court testimony.  Rejected psychiatric defense.  Against advice, testified on his own behalf. 
Convicted of 1st degree. 


Taylor, E.  Multnomah County OR 2000-2001

A Black male that has expend most of his adult life in prison was charged with aggravated murder of a pregnant black female. The murder occurred 14 years before and was charged shortly before been released from prison after serving several years for an unrelated offense. He consistently denied his involvement in the crime, even as he accepted a plea bargaining. Socio-cultural evaluation. Multiple collateral interviews. Consultations with defense team.

  Cruz, T. V. Shasta County 1992-1994

A 23-year-old Mexican Indian charged with first
degree murder of a white policeman, a capital offense.  A high publicity case. The venue was changed to Sonoma County.  Socio-cultural investigation in Mexico, cultural issues.  Racism. Preparation of witnesses. Court testimony. Outcome: death sentence.
 Appeals in process.

Castro, H Orange County. 1999

Uncertain age, possibly minor. Origin questionable.
He claims to be "Texano" ( Mexican-American  
 from Texas).  No family, no relatives, no papers, he could be from Centro-America, Salvadorian. Head injury, several months in coma,  erased all memories pre-accident. Charged with gang related murder. Cultural issues, Identity issues, OBS, court testimony. 

Soto, M. Fresno County 1992

A 20-year-old Mexican-American male charged
with three murders and one attempted murder.
He claimed self-defense. Drugs involved. Cultural
issues, machismo, respect, jealousy. LWOP.

Navarro, R. Orange County 1990

This Mexican teenager was 17 years of age at
the time of the crime. He was charged with felony
murder with special circumstances, a death
penalty case. After four years and several
attorneys, the trial ended with a hung jury. Death
penalty was dropped. Cultural issues,
identification issues, gang involvement, learning disabilities.


Sanchez, J  Tulare County, 1998-99

Mexican male, Sonora, accused of killing a mother
and her daughter, and raping the daughter ,
a capital offense. He denies all the charges: he
was not there.  Convicted  on his on confession
and the testimony of a 5-year-old.  Manipulated
and coerced confession, low IQ, Cultural issues,
questionable reliability of minor's testimony.
Extensive psycho-social investigation. 
 Death sentence on appeal. 

Guerra, J. F. Los Angeles County 1992-1993

This 33-year-old Guatemalan male was charged
with felony murder of a white woman with special
circumstances. To date, Mr. Guerra always has
denied, insisting that he was framed. He claims to
be a good Samaritan who tried to help the dying
woman.  Psychological profile. Cultural issues.
Court testimony. Outcome: life. Appealing.

Arzate, D. San Mateo County 1997

Mexican national charged with first degree
murder with special circumstances, drug-related, execution style. A capital offense.  Escaped to Mexico, but returned voluntarily. Cultural issues.

Cauchi, R. Los Angeles County 1997

A Peruvian male charged with torture-murder of 
a young girl in his care. Capital offense. Cultural
issues. Alleged connections with a military torture
unit back in Peru. He denied it. Extensive
socio-cultural investigation with twenty family
members and Peruvian nationals interviewed.
Torture background refuted.

Castaneda, R. San Mateo County 

Mexican male charged with murder,
execution-style, and other special circumstances.
Capital offense. Drugs were involved. Borderline
Mentally Retarded, cultural issues. Court
testimony. Outcome: 25 years to life.

Duran, M. Orange County 1993

A Salvadorian male arrested in Virginia and
extradited to Orange County five years after
allegedly killing a Nicaraguan male. Originally 
a death penalty case. Culture issues, competency,
identity issues.

Haro, H. Santa Clara County  1989-2000

A 51-year-ol Mexican male was convicted in 1990 of killing his allegedly unfaithful wife.  He turned the weapon on himself but after several surgeries he survived with a permanent disability to serve his sentence in a medial ward of a correctional facility.  cultural issues reinforcing the heat of passion defense were raised in a Habeas Corpus hearing in 2000.  Request for new trial denied.

Hernandez, M. Fresno County 1992-1996

Mexican male charged with murder and rape of
two woman and attempted murder and rape of
another one who survived and identified him.
Paranoid-schizophrenic, cultural issues, satanic
rights, identity issues. Elaborate psychosocial
investigation, including a trip to rural Oaxaca,
Mexico accompanied by one of the attorneys and
an anthropologist, Dr. Gail McGarrity. First trial
was postponed when defendant attacked his
attorney in court. Outcome: LWOP.


Rodriguez, A. Los Angeles County   1998

A 19 year old male, Jalisco, Mex. accused of
killing his female boss, owner of the ranch
where he worked and lived. He denied charges.
Personality study, socio-cultural background.
Convicted on questionable DNA evidence.
Defendant comes from small isolated ranch of
Mexico with limited pool of diverse DNA. 
Another suspect from same Mexican village. 
Flew to Mexico. 

Andrew, J. W. Fresno County 1995

A 21-year-old Caucasian male faced death penalty
for the felony murder of his lover's husband.
Special circumstances, conspiracy, lying in
wait, and financial gain. A Below-Average IQ,
functioning marginally in society and easily
manipulated by co-conspirators. 
Death penalty dropped.

Grajeda, J. Solano County 1996

A Bolivian teenager charged with killing of a
young male and his grandmother. Special
circumstances: double murder, robbery, breaking
and entering. Cultural issues. Respect. Rage. Death
penalty dropped. Plea bargain.

Castillo, J. San Joaquin County 1995

This Hispanic black male claimed to be Mexican
until confronted by Dr. LaCalle, who became
aware of his Hispanic verbal expressions common
to the Caribbean area and not to Mexico. He
admitted being from Honduras. Cultural issues,
identity, competency, psychiatric issues. He has
been charged with a murder of a black woman
with special circumstances, a death penalty charge.
Death penalty was dropped.

Le, T. N. Orange County 1995

A Vietnamese charged with killing his wife and
his mother-in-law. Cultural issues. Consultant to
the Vietnamese defense psychologist.

Cercas, M. P. Orange County 1994

A 17-year-old Mexican teenager, Borderline
Mentally Retarded, charged with the killing of a rival gang member. Cultural issues, drugs and alcohol, gang affiliation. Plea bargaining, four years in youth camp.

Navarro, J. L. Ventura County 1990

A 17- year-old Mexican minor who allegedly was sexually assaulted by a homosexual suitor and Navarro killed him. Cultural issues, Hispanic attitude toward homosexuality.
Plea bargain, voluntary manslaughter.

Segovia, R. San Bernardino County 1997

A 14-year-old Mexican-American charged with first degree murder. Minor was manipulated by older gang members to fire the shot that killed a rival gang member. Cultural issues,
 gang affiliation, social maturity.

Arballo, J. F. San Francisco County 1996

A 17-year-old Mexican minor tried as an adult in a first degree murder with special circumstances of a white, gay male, in San Francisco. Cultural issues. Sexual attitudes of the Hispanics, identity, socio-cultural investigation. First trial ended in mistrial,
outcome of the second trial: unknown.

Garcia, J. C. Contra Costa County 1995

A 17-year-old Mexican minor charged with first degree murder with special circumstances of a minor female. Cultural issues, satanic rituals, necrophilia, psychopathic ritual killer with murder delusions. Extensive socio-cultural investigation, including
criminal and psychiatric records from Mexico. Court testimony. Guilty of first degree murder. 

Jimenez, F. Ventura County 1991-1992

A Mexican female of approximately 21-year-old (no birth records) charged with premeditated murder of her newborn baby, delivered in a chemical field
restroom. A high publicity case, emotional issues
clouding reality. Multiple interviews (five). Cultural
issues, extensive socio-cultural investigation.
Borderline Mentally Retarded or organic etiology.
Manipulated confession.  Court testimonies.

  Sanchez, T. Orange County 1997

A 22-year-old Mexican female who was allegedly raped and became pregnant.  She was charged with premeditated murder of her newborn baby, disposed of in a trash can.  Defendant claimed miscarriage.  Cultural issues, socio-attitudes, incest innuendoes, traumatic family history.

Arroyo, H. Orange County 1990

A 21-year-old Mexican male charged with first degree murder with special circumstances of an Indian male in the restaurant belonging to the victim.  Arroyo claimed self-defense.  Cultural issues, alcohol.   Psychosocial history, family was contacted in Mexico.  
Plea bargaining.

Bustamante, D. R. Mendocino County 1991

An illiterate Mexican male accused of first degree murder with special circumstances, in the the killing of his half-brother known to be a violent person.  Bustamante claimed self-defense.  Miranda, cultural issues, attitude toward police, questionable confession, and psychological autopsy of the victim.  Court testimony.  found not guilty and released.  

Alcantar, J.  Los Angeles County, 1994

A homeless Mexican male charged with killing his common-law wife, also homeless, and a white homeless gay male.  Denied both killings.  Cultural issues, attitude toward gays, Miranda, manipulated confession from a Borderline Mentally retarded subject.
Court testimony.

Martinez, N. San Bernardino County 1992

Mexican-American charged with first degree murder of his wife. Martinez joined a Fundamentalist Church and the pastor sent him to Mexico as a missionary while the pastor moved in with Mr. Martinez' wife. Upon his return, wife kept up affair with pastor. Martinez killed her. Cultural issues, passion, betrayal, family honor. Plea bargaining, voluntary manslaughter.

Ramos, J.C. Orange County, 1992

A 20- year -old Mexican male co-defendant in a felony murder with robbery and drugs. Arrested a month later for unrelated crime, deported to Mexico, he voluntarily returned "to pay his dues." Psychological evaluation, cultural issues, family honor,
psychosocial history.

Hernandez, R. Ventura County, 1991

A 21- year- old Mexican-American killed one of his attackers at the doorsteps of his house. Cultural issues, family respect, gang related issues.

Baltasar, J. Orange County 1993

A 21- year- old Mexican, illiterate, Mild Mental Retardation, charged with first degree murder of another Mexican male outside a bar. Baltasar denied the shooting. Contradictory testimony of witnesses. Cultural issues, IQ, competency, ability to form criminal intention, Miranda, false and manipulated confession. Court testimony. Outcome: life.

Gonzalez, A. F. San Bernardino County 1993

Mexican male already serving a twenty-six year to life sentence was accused of a second murder of a female drug addict he picked up in a bar (prior to incarceration).  No apparent motive for the killing ever found.  Cultural issues, psychiatric issues.  

Navarro, G. R.   Los Angeles County 1993

A 20-year-old Mexican male charged with first degree murder of another Mexican outside a nightclub. Claimed self-defense. Cultural issues. Plea bargain, voluntary manslaughter.

Vazquez, J. San Joaquin County, 1997

Mentally retarded Mexican accused of the stabbing death of another Mexican male. Given his low IQ of 58, he could not provide adequate defense. Manipulated confession. Miranda. Case was dismissed. Recently, the actual killer was captured.

Vazquez-Nava, J.A.    Tulare County, 1979-97

Mr. Vazquez was initially charged with first degree murder of his wife in 1979 with special circumstances.  A capital case later filed as 1st degree murder.   He escaped to Mexico and, almost twenty years later, he returned to the United States voluntarily to "pay his dues." Cultural issues, mental disorder, paranoid delusions, religious delusional system, extensive socio-cultural investigation in Mexico. Court testimony. Convicted second degree murder.

Claudio, J. San Barbara County 1994

Borderline Mentally Retarded Mexican, co-defendant in a murder case.  Cultural issues, Miranda, manipulated confession.  Taking the blame for "smarter" co-defendant. 

Tellez, A.H.  San Joaquin County. 1997

19 year old Mexican male, Sinaloa, charged murder and robbery, a capital offense. He was mistakenly deported to Mexico, but he returned on his own will to avoid the embarrassment of returning home as a failure. Psychological issues. Add.
Death penalty avoided. 

Cervantes, V.  Ventura County, 1992

A 30 year old Mexican female originally charged 
with the murder of her infant daughter. Cultural 
Issues, psychological issues.

Saavedra, F. Orange County, 1984

Mexican male, unknown age, probably high 70s or 80s, claimed to have been in the Bracero Program during WWII. Charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder. Cultural issues, family respect, psychiatric issues, competency, alcohol.

Campos,R.A.  Los Angeles County 1996-1997

20 year old Mexican, Sinaloa, male, charged with first degree murder with special  circumstances. Cultural defense. 20 years of family feuding with several homicides by both parties in Mexico, spilled over the border. Family honor, "deber de sangre",
Miranda issues




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