BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County Public Defender’s office has been appointed to represent the Inglewood man accused of raping and killing 13-year-old Patricia Alatorre.
Chief Deputy Public Defender Tanya Richard confirmed in court Tuesday that she and Deputy Public Defender Thomas Pope will represent Armando Cruz going forward, taking over for two Los Angeles attorneys who requested to be removed from the case.
Richard asked the court to set a status conference a month from now to give her time to meet with Cruz and discuss the case.
Superior Court Judge Colette M. Humphrey set a hearing for Jan. 25, where a new trial date will be scheduled.
Cruz, 25, could face the death penalty if convicted.
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.
Arrested in Inglewood, Cruz described in detail how he killed the teen and disposed of her body, according to court documents. The details he gave detectives matched crime scene evidence.