Originally Published: March 10, 2015 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Public Defender John Napper successfully argued March 2 before a Superior Court Judge in Prescott that the Cecilio Cruz case should return for a new Grand Jury finding. However, the finding has turned out to be a new indictment handed down by the Grand Jury on March 4 that has not changed the picture for the defendant.
Cruz, now 34, will once again face the court charged with second-degree murder of his former girlfriend, Marisol Gonzalez, 17, and manslaughter in the death of her unborn son she had already named "Andrew."
Those were the same charges leveled against Cruz in September 2014, after a reality TV show, "Cold Justice," brought some big-city legal leverage to the Verde Valley and re-interviewed dozens of witnesses, eliminating some loose ends in the haunting 17-year-old homicide.
It is unlikely that the case will return to the Verde Valley for trial. Napper had asked that the case be re-assigned to a new judge. Judge Michael Bluff of the Camp Verde court had insisted that Cruz be held in the local jail rather than go free on a $10,000 bond release. That's when Presiding Judge David Mackey assigned the case to Judge Jennifer Campbell in Prescott.
Campbell ordered the case be presented to a new Grand Jury after a hearing on the motion March 2.
Cruz and Gonzalez had been dating in 1997, but she found she was pregnant after they broke up. She was expected to have the pregnancy induced the day after she was shot in the face. Family members said she expected to speak with Cecilio that night. It was believed that they met that night in an alley near her home.
Napper had told the judge Monday, March 2, that a witness claimed that the people thought to be Cruz and Gonzalez in the alley were not those two but that testimony was not presented to the first Grand Jury proceeding.
Napper had also claimed that a law officer presenting the case had made an unreasonable leap by assuming that when teens interviewed wondered how the child died, if the mother was shot in the head that Cruz also made that assumption. Cruz had blurted that the baby was OK before being informed in an interview the status of the mother and child.
It is unclear when the case will return to a judge.
Jon Hutchinson is a reporter for the Verde Independent in Cottonwood.