South Bay News
Monte Sereno murder suspects appear together in court
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Three accused killers stood together, but silent, in a San Jose courtroom Friday. They are charged with the mansion murder of a wealthy South Bay businessman.
The men accused of killing Raveesh Ravi Kumra did not give any indication in court they know each other. The private attorney for one of the men tried to keep her client out of view altogether, saying she didn't want potential witnesses to falsely identify him based on news coverage.
"I would ask the court, in an abundance of caution, to place my client in an area where the court can make an individual observation of him in the doorway, but not the media," Melissa Adams asked.
Judge Jerome Nadler denied that request and Sacramento resident Deangelo Austin did his best to hide behind his attorney.
The prosecution has charged Austin, along with Oakland resident Javier Garcia and Lukis Anderson with six felony counts each, including the Kumra's murder, during a Nov. 30, 2012 home invasion robbery at his Monte Sereno estate.
"For judicial economy, you try them all together; it would have to be a strategic decision to separate them but at this point, it seems they should all stay together," deputy district attorney Anne Seery said.
It's not clear if a fourth defendant, Alameda resident Raven Dixon, will be tried with the other three. Police say she is a prostitute who had a relationship with Kumra. Prosecutors have charged her as an accessory to murder.
Prosecutors have sealed the facts in this case leaving a lot of unanswered questions including how the defendants are tied together and even how Kumra was killed.
There are however volumes of court documents which paint an unflattering portrait of Kumra, accusing him of surrounding himself with prostitutes and hiding millions of dollars in assets from business partners.
"That may supply a motive and opportunity for the defendants to have taken advantage of him and try to rob him and ultimately result in his own demise; it's not going to be a defense to throw dirt on the victim in this case," legal analyst Steven Clark said.
The three murder defendants are once again scheduled to appear in court together to enter pleas next month.
monte sereno, crime, home invasion, murder, south bay news, karina rusk
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