BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Los Angeles-based attorneys who have served as legal counsel for the man charged with raping and killing 13-year-old Patricia Alatorre are seeking to continue representing him, and are asking to be compensated by Kern County.
Attorneys Tomas Requejo and Joel G. Garcia say they have gained the confidence of Armando Cruz and his family over the past year-and-a-half and are “quite familiar” with the case, according to a motion filed Nov. 4.
The attorneys say Cruz, 25, is indigent — he was underemployed, has no savings or assets and lived with family at the time of his arrest — and they’re asking the county to pay them as the case moves forward.
“To have another attorney appointed to represent Mr. Cruz at this stage of the case will cost the County of Kern a considerable amount of money in attorneys’ fees in order to have new counsel become as familiar with the facts and evidence in the case as Mr. Requejo and Mr. Garcia are now,” the motion says.
It says appointing new counsel would lead to delays, and that it’s in the court’s and Cruz’s best interests they remain as counsel.
If Requejo and Garcia aren’t appointed, the Public Defender’s office or Indigent Defense Program would represent Cruz.
“Mr. Requejo and Mr. Garcia have gained Mr. Cruz’s and his family’s confidence and trust and Mr. Cruz would very much like Mr. Requejo and Mr. Garcia to remain as his attorneys, rather than have the court appoint ‘a stranger’ to represent him at trial,” according to the motion.
Cruz is accused of raping and strangling Alatorre after driving from Inglewood and picking her up near her Bakersfield home in July of last year. It’s alleged he drove back with her body and left it at a construction site.
He’s due back in court next week for a motions hearing, the court website says. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
A gag order was issued following Cruz’s arrest. Last month, the original charges against him were dismissed and a new case filed after he was indicted by grand jury.
A temporary gag order was put in place after Cruz’s arraignment on the indictment, and prosecutors are seeking guidance on the scope of that order.
The District Attorney’s office on Nov. 12 filed a motion asking, if the gag order remains in place, attorneys be allowed 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.
According to court filings, a Ring camera captured Alatorre entering a white pickup the night of July 1, 2020, and investigators found conversations on her Instagram account between her and a person later identified as Cruz.
Alatorre met with Cruz once previously, the reports say, and he threatened to leak inappropriate photos of her online if she didn’t meet him a second time.
Police arrested Cruz in Inglewood, and he described in detail how he killed Alatorre and disposed of her body, according to the documents.