MODESTO — A preliminary hearing scheduled to start this week was postponed until July 30 for three teenagers charged with murder in the stabbing of another teenager during a botched robbery 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. The prosecutor has said that Crippen was stabbed to death as he tried to escape.
During a brief hearing Wednesday, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves said she was in the middle of a lengthy trial, so her courtroom was not available for the preliminary hearing.
But Reeves said in court Tuesday that she was ready to find another judge to handle the hearing. The defense attorneys, however, told her they would like to postpone the preliminary hearing so they could have time to go over additional evidence and conduct further investigations.
The defense attorneys' request to delay the hearing was not discussed in open court Wednesday. The attorneys, including the prosecutor, met with the judge in her chambers for several minutes before Wednesday's hearing started.
Reeves did not hand over the preliminary hearing to another judge, opting to simply postpone it until late next month. The attorneys made no objections to her decision.
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 that 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.