As a retrial seems more and more likely for four defendants facing murder charges in the July 2007 death of 16-year-old Lorenzo Carachure, it appears attorneys for three of the defendants will look to separate their cases from the fourth, Ruben Mize.
The first trial ended in a hung jury after a month of testimony and arguments in July. The jury could not agree on the first degree murder charges, as well as two attempted murder charges, against Mize and his alleged cohorts Raul Diaz, Ricardo Nava, and Bryan Medinilla.
This past Tuesday, August 10, attorneys for Diaz and Medinilla indicated that they intend to file a motion to officially sever their cases from Mize’s. According to testimony in the first trial, Mize appears to be most culpable in the death. Mize was also caught on audiotape admitting to an informant that he stabbed Carachure. Nava’s attorney is also expected to follow suit in filing the motion.
Once admitting they were hung, members of the jury said that they would’ve likely convicted Mize of second degree murder had the opportunity to consider such a charge been allowed. Prosecutor Hans Almgren would have had to drop the first degree murder charge for that to be the case, but he declined. The jury members weren’t as sure about the other three defendants.
Severing the cases would “resolve the problem of cross-contamination,” said Sam Eaton, attorney for Diaz. James Crowder, who represents Medinilla, had filed a motion to sever prior to the first trial, but the court ruled the motion wasn’t timely, given it was done so close to the start of the trial. Attorneys didn’t realize trying all the defendants at once would be problematic for them until right before trial began.
During the first trial, the four were found guilty of being active members of a criminal street gang, a crime carrying a maximum penalty of three years. Mize was found guilty of attempted murder for a separate attack that took place months later. For that conviction, he faces 15 years to life in prison.
The four will be back in court on September 10 to argue the motions in front of Judge Clifford Anderson. The four — all juveniles at the time of the alleged homicide — have been in custody since May 2008. As it stands right now, a new trial must commence by October 30.