The recently discharged Marine, Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, of Yorba Linda, has been
indicted by an Orange County Grand Jury for the alleged murder of a mother, son
and 4 homeless men.
Ocampo is being charged for what the Orange County District Attorney described
as a “serial thrill-kill spree.”
The DA is seeking sentencing enhancements “for personal use of a deadly weapon,
a knife, during the commission of a crime.” If convicted of the charges, Ocampo
could serve a minimum sentence of life in prison without parole, and the
special circumstances in the case make Ocampo eligible for the death penalty.
Ocampo has plead “not guilty” to the six killings. Ocampo’s attorney Randall
Longwith has told reporters that an insanity plea linked to his client’s
military service in Iraq is being considered by the defense.
“But that’s not going to fly,” said Tony Rackauckas, DA.
“In a criminal case, you know, particularly a case like this, how many ways can
you go with the defense? When the case is very clear. This is the person; he’s
the one who did it. There isn’t any getting out of that. You have to start
looking for other defenses, and I think that’s what they’ll do,” Rackauckas
said. “The mental defense, the insanity, the post-war trauma, that kind of
thing, is always something we expect to hear.”
All 6 murders occurred in the North Orange County cities of Placentia, Yorba
Linda and Anaheim.
Ocampo is now accused by the DA of the murders of 53-year-old Raquel Estrada
and her son Juan Herrera, 34. The two died in their Yorba Linda home Oct. 25,
2011, according to a press release by the Orange County DA’s office.
The bodies were left on the floor of the home. Estrada was stabbed more than 30
times and Herrera was stabbed more than 60 times, according to the release.
The murders of Estrada and Herrera are the only murders of the 6 charges that
were not committed against a homeless person.
The other 4 murders involved James McGillivray, 53; Lloyd “Jimmy” Middaugh, 42;
Paulus “Dutch” Smit, 57; and John Berry, 64.
All 6 murders that Ocampo is accused of involve multiple stab wounds to the
victims, which may play a factor in whether the DA will pursue a death penalty
Before the death penalty is pursued, a special circumstances committee — which
consists of the DA, the senior assistant and assistant DA in charge of the
Homicide Unit — must meet with other experienced prosecutors to discuss the
factors of the case.
Under California law the DA is free to seek the death penalty if the
“aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors,” the press
“Aggravating factors are any facts above and beyond the circumstances of crime
that increases the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct, the enormity of the
offense or the harmful impact of the crime. Mitigating factors are any facts
that reduce the defendant’s blameworthiness or otherwise support a less severe
punishment,” it stated.
Nina Nwarueze, 19, a biochemistry major and a resident adviser, had not been
informed of the local slayings, but she believes Cal State Fullerton is still
safe because of the police force that make rounds through the housing community
several times each day.
Cal State Fullerton has established several precautions to keep students safe
on campus, according to the University Police website.
University Police provides escort service across campus, to personal vehicles,
or to on campus residence, according to the Department’s Annual Security
Armando Torres, a 21-year-old English major works as a resident adviser on
campus, he and several other older students patrol the residential halls for
any problems or unwanted visitors.
“Every single night R.A.’s are on what we call ‘on duty’, so there are five
R.A’s on duty, one R.A. serves as the dispatch, so the whenever students call
the R.A. on dispatch will answer,” said Torres.
Eric Reeker, 18, a kinesiology major, has read about the local killings but
does not feel his safety is conflicted on campus.
“I feel really safe. We have a police station right on campus so I am not
scared or fearful,” said Reeker.
Despite the killings, the City of Fullerton’s most commonly reported crimes in
2011 were vandalism and vehicle burglary, according to the City of Fullerton’s
(source: The Daily Titan)