[KHTS] – The District Attorney’s Office is set to retry the lone member of the “Halloween trio” who was not found guilty of charges brought against the three then-teens accused in a Halloween 2011 murder.
The District Attorney’s Office is set to retry the lone member of the “Halloween trio” who was not found guilty of charges brought against the three then-teens accused in an Oct. 31, 2011, murder.
“A retrial (for Branden Higgs) is set to begin Dec. 5,” said Brad Lieberman, deputy district attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Lieberman declined any further comment on the case.
Higgs, Eric Edwards and Diamonte McGhee, all 20, of Santa Clarita, were 17 when they were charged initially in the robbery-murder.
His co-defendants were found guilty Thursday of nearly all charges related to the robbery and attempted murder of Ricardo Sandoval three years ago today, and the fatal shooting of Alejandro Sanchez-Torres, who tried to intervene.
“They’re facing multiple life terms, and life without the possibility of parole” when they’re back in front of Judge David Gelfound.
McGhee is due back in court for sentencing on Jan. 22. Edwards is due back in court for sentencing Feb. 2 for the Halloween 2011 murder.
The jury voted 7-5, for most of the charges, in favor of not guilty for Higgs, and he was found not guilty of the conspiracy to commit robbery, which means he can’t be recharged for that specific count.
There were 11 counts levelled against Higgs, and on 10 of the counts, a mistrial was declared because jurors were “hopelessly deadlocked.”
The jury foreman said no amount of instruction or further deliberation would have changed the outcome.
From a previous story:
Sandoval — who was trying to buy marijuana from the then-teens, and sell them a Nintendo DS before the robbery took place — was not in court Thursday.
Sanchez-Torres, who was killed during the robbery, had only met Sandoval moments prior to his death, when Sandoval gave the man 35 cents, after Sanchez-Torres asked if he had any money.
Sanchez-Torres was with his then-7-year-old son when he saw Sandoval getting beat up and tried to intervene in the wash behind Art’s Liquor in Canyon Country, according to testimony in court.
The jury foreman said jurors were “hopelessly deadlocked” on the counts against Higgs, and that no amount of instruction or deliberation would likely change the outcome.
Edwards and McGhee are due back in court for sentencing in several months.
It is unknown at this time if the District Attorney will recharge Higgs.
Edwards and Higgs were admonished by Gelfound for emotional outbursts as the charges were read, and after clearing the jury from the room, both McGhee and Higgs used foul language in front of the judge, leading them to be sent back to lockup as the last of the charges against Edwards were read.
Edwards and McGhee were found guilty of murder in the death of Sanchez-Torres; attempted murder for the shooting of Sandoval; second degree robbery; and guilty of assault with a firearm against Sandoval, for several attempts to shoot him that were unsuccessful because the gun reportedly jammed several times.
All three were cleared of additional charges based on an alleged shooting in the days before the robbery and murder.
The prosecution claimed Edwards, who didn’t know McGhee well before Halloween 2011, met with McGhee for a fight three days before the murder and fired shots at a group of teens they were supposed to fight.
The jury didn’t find sufficient evidence to support those claims.
The “halloween trio,” Diamonte Jerome McGhee, 20, Branden Trevaughn Higgs, 20, and Eric Michael Edwards, 20, were all 17 when they were arrested on charges they were involved in the death of Sanchez-Torres and wounding of Sandoval, who was shot in the leg during a robbery gone awry Oct. 31, 2011.
The three suspects allegedly met with the victims over the purchase of a game system. The exact circumstances of the robbery is unknown, but there was reportedly a dispute.
McGhee produced a handgun and shot Sanchez-Torres in the heart — mere inches from a tattoo of his son’s name across his chest, according to testimony. When Sandoval attempted to run away, McGhee shot him in the leg, according to a criminal complaint.
Edwards has been in custody since April 30, 2012, for the crime, Higgs has been in custody since Aug. 27, 2012, and McGhee has been in custody since Jan. 27, 2012.
While the murder charge comes with a possibility of the death penalty, District Attorney spokesperson Jane Robison said that the court will not seek the death penalty for anyone under the age of 18, even though they are being tried as adults.
The more serious charges are leveled at McGhee, for using the gun.
All three were charged as adults, and are being held without bail in Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.
A memorial fund was established to help the victims.