BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Los Angeles attorneys who represented the Inglewood man accused of raping and killing 13-year-old Patricia Alatorre since his arrest in July 2020 have withdrawn from the case.
Joel G. Garcia and Tomas Requejo were relieved as counsel for Armando Cruz during a brief hearing Tuesday morning.
Judge Judith K. Dulcich tentatively appointed the Kern County Public Defender’s office and set a hearing for next week to make sure it has no conflicts in representing Cruz, who could face the death penalty if convicted.
Garcia declined comment afterward, citing a gag order.
Last month, Garcia and Requejo filed a motion seeking to continue representing Cruz and to receive payment from Kern County, saying they had gained his trust and their knowledge of the case would prevent delays resulting from the appointment of new counsel.
The attorneys said Cruz, 25, is indigent and lived with family at the time of his arrest.
Alatorre was initially reported as a runaway but a neighbor’s cellphone camera captured her getting into a white pickup late July 1, 2020. 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 met with Cruz once previously, and agreed to see him a second time after he threatened to leak the photos.
Cruz, detained at his home in Inglewood, described how he raped and strangled her then disposed of her body, according to court documents.
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.
Also, Alatorre’s body was found where Cruz said he had left it, documents said.