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UPDATE: 3 enter pleas of not guilty in Alejandro Sanchez Torrez slaying

Posted: January 9, 2012 10:58 a.m.
Updated: January 9, 2012 5:24 p.m.


SAN FERNANDO — Three young men facing murder charges in the death of a Canyon Country man on Halloween entered not-guilty pleas in San Fernando Superior Court on Monday.

Shortly after 10 a.m., Diamonte Jerome McGhee, Branden Trevaughn Higgs and Eric Michael Edwards — each handcuffed and wearing bright orange jail uniforms — filed into a wire cage at the side of the San Fernando Superior Court, where they sat silently while their respective attorneys entered the pleas for them.

The lawyers stood in front of their clients as Commissioner Martin R. Gladstein noted their pleas of “not guilty.”
They are due back in court in February to set a date for a preliminary hearing.

Besides murder, each of the three is also charged with conspiracy, robbery and two counts of attempted murder.
Assistant District Attorney Bradley Lieberman has identified McGhee as the triggerman.

On the afternoon of Oct. 31, Alejandro Sanchez Torrez, who was accompanied by his 7-year-old son, tried to come to the aid of a man who was allegedly being robbed by the suspects while arranging to sell them a Nintendo DS game system.
The alleged robbery victim, identified by prosecutors as Ricardo Sandoval of Newhall, was shot in the leg.

On Monday, Lieberman handed over stapled copies of the witness list, plus other relevant documents and a computer disc containing data.

He had previously asked the judge to allow him to keep the witness list confidential, saying he feared for the witnesses’ safety.

According to details of a felony complaint sworn out and signed by District Attorney Steve Cooley, Sandoval’s wounding and Sanchez Torrez’s fatal shooting on Halloween were the culmination of several gun-related incidents during a 48-hour period leading up to the robbery and slaying at a Canyon Country strip mall.

The nine-page felony complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court describes gun-related terror involving six other victims, all allegedly at the hands of the Halloween shooter, according to the documents.

At the center of the alleged gun-related crimes is McGhee, the complaint says.

McGhee allegedly tried to shoot and kill a man before the shooting of Sandoval and Sanchez Torrez.

The complaint also alleges McGhee, on the same day, used a semi-automatic firearm to “willfully and unlawfully commit an assault” on five other men.

Criminal charges against McGhee stemming from those allegations include: attempted murder and five counts of assault with a semi-automatic weapon.

All three of the defendants were bound over to stand trial as adults, although they were 17 at the time of the shooting.

McGhee turns 18 on Friday.




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