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Court hearing postponed for pair accused of killing child

New attorney assigned to defend boyfriend of 5-year-old's mother

Posted: June 6, 2008 1:13 a.m.
Updated: August 7, 2008 5:02 a.m.

A Superior Court judge postponed a hearing Thursday for a Castaic woman and her boyfriend accused in the torture and slaying of the woman's 5-year-old daughter.

The hearing was put off until July 14 because a new attorney was assigned to defend Anthony Rodriguez, 27, who was previously represented by the county public defender's office.

Rodriguez is accused of murdering, raping and beating Debby Saravia's daughter, Deserie, in a Castaic motel on Nov. 12, 2004.

Saravia, 30, faces two counts of child abuse. She pleaded not guilty in 2004 to felony child-abuse charges; Rodriguez, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, torture and sexually abusing the girl.

The couple appeared in Dept. E of San Fernando Superior Court on Thursday morning to have a severance motion heard.

The motion, originally filed by Rodriguez's public defender, is an attempt to establish two independent and separate cases - one for Rodriguez and one for Saravia.

Currently, both are scheduled to be tried together in a joint proceeding. But both defendants argued that their charges are unrelated to each other and the matters should be heard separately.

If the motion is granted, there may be two separate criminal trials.

At Thursday's hearing, Rodriguez requested that Judge Robert Coen consider the severance motion within the next two weeks.

"I think my attorney will be ready in two to three weeks," Rodriguez said.

However, Coen continued the hearing to July 14. "You have no standing to address this court on the severance motion," Coen told Rodriguez. "Your attorney is the captain of this ship."

Saravia also has her own attorney. Deputy District Attorney Mary Sedwick will present the case on behalf of the state.

Weeks after Deserie was killed, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich ordered an investigation as to why the Deptment of Children and Family Services failed to investigate three separate reports that the young girl was being abused, and why she was allowed to return to her mother after Sheriff's investigators said the woman had a criminal record.

After a closed session, Antonovich urged Sheriff's homicide investigators to pursue criminal charges against the social worker who handled Saravia's case.


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