Local

Final arguments made in Merced County murder trial

Friday, September 03, 2010

Attorneys made their final arguments in the trial of a man accused of one of the cruelest crimes in Merced County history.

Prosecutors say Luis Valencia and three other men who are being tried separately -- burned Rosa Avina to death in October of 2007 over stolen drugs.

Luis Valencia listened to a Spanish interpreter as the prosecutor explained how he allegedly helped in the gruesome murder of Rosa Avina.

Deputy District Attorney Steven Slocum showed jurors the rifle he says Valencia used to kidnap Avina from a home in Turlock before tying her hands and feet, covering her face with black tape, and driving her to a field in Ballico in the trunk of a car.

Slocum also showed them the coke bottle he says Valencia filled with gasoline before pouring it on the 27-year-old as another man threw a match at her. "We're not gonna let a woman get zip tied, and taped up, and burned to death and just let that go."

Slocum then brought out what he calls a key piece of evidence. A gold ring he says Avina was wearing when she was kidnapped that Valencia later asked his wife to hide during phone calls from his jail cell. "You have a physical piece of evidence that came from the victim herself."

Slocum also said a statement by Rosa Avina before she died matched what witnesses said about her murder.

But Defense Attorney David Capron argued the prosecution's star witness cannot be trusted because he was high on drugs at the time of the murder and hadn't slept in days ... and because he took a plea deal to testify in the case. "It's easy for him, in order to save his own skin, to spin it off onto someone else."

Capron also argued there's no physical evidence linking his client to the crime scene. "So that raises the question was there another person out there that has not been identified."

Now it's up to the jury to decide if Valencia is guilty. He's charged with first degree murder with the special circumstances of kidnapping, torture, and mayhem ... as well as a second kidnapping count. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

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Tags:
merced, merced county, ballico, murder, court, crimetracker, local, sara sandrik
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