Modesto murder trial delayed Tuesday

A trial for three defendants accused of murder was put on hold Tuesday because one of the defense attorneys was ill.

Taylor Koplen, Jacob Segura and Juan Garcia are charged in the stabbing death of 18-year-old Tylor Crippen, who was killed in an east Modesto park.

Authorities believe the defendants accosted Crippen and his girlfriend Jan. 29, 2013, before chasing Crippen into Creekwood Park, a few blocks west of Claus Road. The prosecution believes Koplen then stabbed Crippen.

Alonzo Gradford, Garcia’s attorney, was not feeling well enough to be in court Tuesday morning. Because testimony in the trial could not continue without Gradford, the defendants and the jury were not called into the courtroom.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves asked the attorneys to return to her courtroom Wednesday morning to determine whether Gradford was well enough to continue with the trial.

The trial could resume Wednesday afternoon with testimony from Alex Salazar.

The prosecution says Salazar was attacked by the defendants not long before Crippen was stabbed at the same park. The prosecutor has said in court that the defendants took a knife from Salazar that later was used to stab Crippen.

Also Tuesday, Reeves issued $5,000 bench warrants for Owen Ramos and Dena Harper for failing to return to the courtroom as ordered. Last week, Ramos was on the witness stand, being questioned by Deputy District Attorney Jeff Laugero, when Ramos abruptly got up and walked out of the courtroom.

Prosecutors tried to convince Ramos to return to the witness stand but were not successful. His mother later convinced him to return, but the jury already was gone. Ramos’ mother had indicated that her son was feeling ill. The judge had ordered them both to return to the courtroom Tuesday morning.