Judge adjusts gag order in Armando Cruz case

Crime Watch

Armando Cruz at a hearing on Oct. 14, 2021. / KGET

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Kern County judge on Tuesday granted a motion modifying the gag order issued in the case of an Inglewood man accused of raping and killing a 13-year-old Bakersfield girl.

The judge granted a motion allowing attorneys to inform the media and public of dates, times and locations for future court appearances, what those appearances involve and their outcome — without referencing facts or evidence in the case against Armando Cruz.

Defense counsel did not object to the motion filed earlier this month by prosecutors. Another motions hearing is scheduled next month.

Cruz, 25, could face the death penalty if convicted.

The teen, Patricia Alatorre, was initially reported as a runaway but a neighbor’s cellphone camera captured her getting into a white pickup late July 1, 2020, and detectives found conversations on her Instagram account between her and a man insisting she meet him or he would post inappropriate photos of her online.

It’s alleged Alatorre had met with Cruz once previously, and agreed to see him a second time after he threatened to leak the photos.

Detained in Inglewood, where he lived, Cruz described in detail how he killed the teen and disposed of her body, according to court documents.

He told detectives he strangled Alatorre then covered her mouth and nose with duct tape to make sure she was dead, the filings say. Alatorre’s cellphone was found in the area where Cruz said he tossed it as he drove south on Highway 99 back to Inglewood, police said.

And the location where Cruz said he left Alatorre was where an unidentified female’s body was located the night of July 3, according to the filings. The body was identified as Alatorre.

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