HANFORD, Calif. (KGET) — He’s getting closer, but the attorney representing notorious Kern County murderer Jamie Osuna in a prison slaying isn’t ready for a preliminary hearing yet.
Miles A. Harris on Wednesday told a Kings County judge he has a couple potential candidates to serve as co-counsel on the death penalty-eligible case, and has assigned an investigator with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation experience to interview Osuna soon.
He asked for and was granted a pretrial conference in December. It appears likely a preliminary hearing — where a judge decides if there’s sufficient evidence to proceed — will then be scheduled.
At the time of Romero’s death, Osuna was serving life without parole for the torture-slaying of Yvette Pena in Bakersfield.
On Wednesday a prosecutor, noting the case is more than four years old, asked for a preliminary hearing in January. Harris said setting a date would be premature given his investigator has yet to meet with Osuna and co-counsel hasn’t been chosen. He said the the case requires a “hefty obligation” in his duty to his client, one that includes thoroughly looking into mental health issues.
Harris added the assigned prosecutor has failed to appear for half the hearings since Harris was privately retained late last year.
Osuna was first represented by court-appointed attorney Melina Benninghoff. Osuna fired her and the court appointed Hugo Gomez-Vidal; he was released when Harris was hired.