BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Armando Cruz, the man accused of raping and strangling a 13-year-old girl last summer, was arraigned Thursday on an indictment replacing charges previously filed against him.
The charges listed under the indictment are similar to the original charges brought by prosecutors, but there is no kidnapping charge. The previous case was dismissed during the hearing.
Cruz is charged with murder, rape and nine felonies related to sex acts with a minor and possession of sexual images of a minor. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
A temporary gag order barring attorneys from commenting remains in place. It’s scheduled to be discussed Dec. 14.
Cruz’s Los Angeles-based attorneys, Joel G. Garcia and Tomas Requejo, said they will file a motion asking to have another attorney appointed but to remain on the case in a limited scope for pretrial hearings.
Alatorre’s family initially reported her as a runaway, but a neighbor’s Ring camera captured her entering a white pickup late July 1, 2020. Detectives found conversations on her Instagram account between her and someone later identified as Cruz, according to court documents.
It’s alleged she had met with Cruz once previously, and he threatened to leak inappropriate photos of her online if she didn’t meet him a second time.
That man was identified as Cruz and Los Angeles police arrested him in Inglewood, the filings say.
Cruz described in detail how he killed the teen and disposed of her body, according to the documents.
Cruz told detectives he strangled Alatorre then covered her mouth and nose with duct tape to make sure she was dead. He said he stopped as he drove back to Inglewood and threw Alatorre’s cellphone along the roadway of Highway 99 near Herring Road, according to the documents.
Police said a cellphone was found in the area he indicated.
He also gave the location where he left Alatorre’s body wrapped in a red sleeping bag behind a large construction vehicle, the filings say.
Investigators learned the body of an unidentified female was found in that location on the night of July 3. The details were “extremely similar” to what Cruz told detectives, including that the body had been set on fire, authorities said in the documents.