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Death penalty sought against ex-Marine in several murders in O.C.

Itzcoatl OcampoThe Orange County district attorney’s office announced Monday it will seek the death penalty against a former Marine in the stabbing death of a mother and her son in Yorba Linda and the killings of four homeless men.

Itzcoatl Ocampo, 24, of Yorba Linda, is charged with six felony counts of murder with special circumstances for multiple murders and lying in wait. He also faces sentencing enhancements connected with personal use of a deadly weapon, a knife, during the commission of a crime.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in a statement that he consulted with a “special circumstances committee” of several prosecutors before reaching his decision in the case against the Iraq War veteran.

PHOTOS: O.C. homeless slayings

Ocampo was arrested Jan. 13 after John Berry, a 64-year-old homeless man, was stabbed to death in an Anaheim parking lot, police said. Witnesses chased Ocampo to a nearby mobile home park, where he was captured, police said.

Police identified Ocampo as the suspect in three other slayings that had rattled the homeless community for weeks. James Patrick McGillivray, 53, was killed Dec. 20 near a shopping center; Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was found stabbed to death Dec. 28 in Anaheim; and Paulus Smit, 57, was slain Dec. 30 in Yorba Linda.

DNA evidence linked Ocampo to two additional deaths after his arrest, according to prosecutors. His killing spree began Oct. 25, prosecutors allege, when he stabbed 53-year-old Raquel Estrada and her son, 34-year-old Juan Herrera, in their Yorba Linda home. Estrada, prosecutors said, was stabbed more than 30 times; Herrera more than 60.

Police said Ocampo was friends with Estrada's son in middle and high school.

In February, Anaheim Police Det. Daron Wyatt told grand jurors that Ocampo said he targeted the homeless because "they were available and vulnerable." Ocampo also said he was performing a public service because their presence was a "blight" on the community, Wyatt testified.

In a statement Monday, Rackauckas accused Ocampo of planning the murders and “calculating in carrying out these vicious executions with no plans of stopping.”

Ocampo is being held without bail in the Orange County Jail. His trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 10.

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— Kate Mather

twitter.com/katemather

Photo: Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo, 23, with his attorney Randall Longwith at Ocampo's arraignment in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana in February. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

 
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