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Serial killer suspect Ocampo's arraignment moved to March 16

February 6, 2012 | 12:49 pm


Former Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, in court last month


Monday's arraignment for Itzcoatl Ocampo, an ex-Marine suspected of stabbing half a dozen people to death, was continued to March 16.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas had announced Friday that Ocampo is a suspect in a double murder because of a "significant” DNA link between an item of clothing taken from Ocampo’s home and DNA from the Oct. 25 Yorba Linda crime scene where Raquel Estrada, 53, and her son Juan Herrera, 34, were fatally stabbed.

"I think what this says about him is he's a vicious killer," Rackauckas said Monday.

PHOTOS: O.C. homeless slayings

Ocampo was alert in a Santa Ana courtroom and responded to a judge's commands. He had dark circles under his eyes and gazed at his family, whom he hadn't seen since his arrest.

"The only concern he is having right now besides what's going on is being able to see his family," said Randall Longwith, Ocampo's attorney. Ocampo has not seen his family in person since his arrest.

His family, including his parents and two siblings, were emotional after the hearing.

When asked by a reporter how it felt to see Ocampo, his younger brother, Mixcoatl Ocampo, cupped a hand over his mouth and began to cry.

Longwith said Ocampo's mental health is still being evaluated.

"These two cases do not fit," he said.

In addition, Ocampo, 23, has been charged in a spate of murders of homeless men that began Dec. 20, prosecutors say. He was arrested Jan. 13 in connection with the stabbing of a fourth victim, John Berry, 64, in a Carl’s Jr. parking lot. A hearing on the four charges is set for Feb. 17.  If convicted, Ocampo faces a minimum of life in prison without parole.  

The DNA connection convinced prosecutors Friday to drop charges against Eder Herrera, 24. He was released from the Orange County Jail that evening and subsequently taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was released pending an immigration hearing.

Rackauckas said Herrera's release does not mean he is "not guilty," and the case is still under investigation.


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-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Former Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, in court last month. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times