Possible judge change in homicide case
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Apr 15, 2013 | 2939 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
STOCKTON — The trial of two people accused of killing a Tracy man remains set for May 6, though it was announced that the trial’s location or presiding judge could change during a Monday, April 15, hearing in San Joaquin County Superior Court.

On April 29, Judge Lauren Thomassen will replace Judge Carter Holly in Department 14, where the trial is scheduled for Stockton residents Daniel Batchelder, 20, and Francisco Limon, 17, who are accused of shooting 28-year-old Everuvaldo Cruz-Espino on Feb. 24, 2012.

Batchelder and Limon are charged with premeditated murder, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, street terrorism, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, street gang affiliation, and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

According to superior court spokeswoman Stephanie Bohrer, no procedural rule prevents Holly — who is being reassigned to Department 41 — from hearing the case, even though he is moving to a courtroom reserved for civil rather than criminal cases.

Bohrer said whether Holly or Thomassen will preside over the case depends upon several factors, including Holly’s schedule and how long the trial is expected to take.

No date has been set for a decision about who will be the trial’s presiding judge.

Deputy District Attorney Mark Ott said after the hearing he was not concerned about a possible change in judges.

“We’re ready to go to trial,” he said.

But Batchelder’s attorney, Timothy Rein, said Monday he was not prepared to go to trial. Holly refused to push back the trial date, but did set a further readiness hearing at 9:30 a.m. April 23 in Department 14.

According to police, the two defendants are allegedly responsible for shooting Cruz-Espino in the neck at about 2 p.m. Feb. 24, 2012.

Cruz-Espino was driving his Dodge Neon when he sustained a single bullet wound to the neck while waiting at a traffic light at the intersection of Tracy Boulevard and Whispering Wind Drive. A passenger who was reportedly in the Neon at the time was uninjured.

Cruz-Espino died March 2 at a regional hospital.

Both defendants are being held without bail. Batchelder remains in San Joaquin County Jail, while Limon is in San Joaquin Juvenile Hall, both in French Camp.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

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