MODESTO — A preliminary hearing was postponed Tuesday for three teenagers charged with murder in the stabbing of another teenager during a botched robbery three months ago at an east Modesto park.
Taylor Koplen, 18, Jacob Segura, 19, and Juan Garcia, 16, are accused of trying to steal a cell phone from Tylor Crippen, 18, who was walking with his girlfriend in Creekwood Park on Jan. 29 when he was attacked. Crippen was stabbed to death as he tried to escape.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves was in the middle of a trial, so her courtroom was not be available for the preliminary hearing. But the judge said in court Tuesday she was ready to find another judge to handle the hearing.
The defense attorneys, however, told the judge they would like to postpone the hearing so they could have time to go over additional evidence and conduct further investigation.
Reeves said she will decide whether to grant the defense's request today. If the judge approves the delay, it's unclear how long the preliminary hearing will be postponed.
The defendants remain in custody. Garcia and Koplen, both minors when the stabbing occurred, are being prosecuted as adults. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, a judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for the defendants to stand trial.
They face charges of first-degree murder, robbery and two counts of attempted robbery, along with enhancements for allegedly committing the crimes for the benefit of the Norteño street gang. They have pleaded not guilty and denied the enhancements.
The prosecutor has said in court that the defendants robbed another victim shortly before Crippen was attacked. She said it's believed the defendants stole a pocketknife from the other victim and later used it to kill Crippen.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394.