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Man accused of killing homeless in O.C. ordered to trial

March 9, 2012 | 11:19 am

Ocampo 2
A former Marine accused of brutally murdering middle-aged homeless men in Orange County as well as the mother and brother of a high school friend was ordered to be returned to court in September to stand trial.

Itzcoatl Ocampo, who was indicted last month for the string of killings, appeared in court Friday with a welt on his forehead, an injury his attorney said he suffered when he banged his head against a toilet or bench in his jail cell.

Ocampo's family wept when the 23-year-old was brought into the courtroom and later told his defense attorney that they were concerned about his declining weight.

Attorney Randall Longwith said his client has been behaving erratically and complaining that he hears voices. He said his client is suffering from tics and headaches.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Price said such erratic behavior is not unusual for a person facing such serious charges, and possibly the death penalty.

She said the claims about his behavior could be related to the defense his attorney intends to mount.

"He's a very intelligent man who acted very rationally during the course of the killings," Price said.

Longwith said Ocampo is definitely suffering from mental illness. "I think his diagnosis is going to be pretty extensive," he said.

Ocampo is accused of stabbing four homeless men to death between Dec. 20 and Jan. 13. Prosecutors say each was stabbed numerous times in the upper body, one victim more than 60 times.

About two weeks after his arrest in the homeless killings, authorities said they had linked Ocampo to the Oct. 25 killings of Raquel Estrada and her son Juan Herrera.

Ocampo was ordered Friday to be return to court Sept. 10.


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-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Itzcoatl Ocampo in court last month. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times