Escobar faces two hearings in stabbing of infant cousin

May 30, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Benjamin Jason Escobar, charged with attempted murder for allegedly stabbing his 7-month-old cousin in the neck, will face a pre-trial hearing June 6 and preliminary hearing June 8, it was decided this morning.

During a brief hearing today, attorney Tom Storey of El Centro announced he has been retained by Escobar's family.

Storey then said his client was pleading not guilty to the charge and denied allegations connected to the case.

Storey asked Superior Court Judge Juan Ulloa to delay the hearings so he could have more time to prepare.

Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen argued the case should move forward within the statutory time allotted.

Ulloa set the pretrial and preliminary hearings for June 6 and June 8, respectively, when Owen will present evidence to the judge so he can decide whether the case warrants going to trial.

After today's hearing, Storey indicated he might still seek a delay, stating he cannot be ready to proceed by next week.


Escobar's family was in court this morning and as Escobar entered the courtroom in shackles, he looked back several times to his family.

Escobar has been charged with attempted murder in the stabbing of 7-month-old Anthony Escalera, Escobar's cousin.

Escobar, who is from Huntington Park, had been staying in Imperial with Anthony's family.

The District Attorney's Office has alleged on May 14 Escobar stabbed Anthony in the neck, then left him in a trash bin across the street from the family's home.

Anthony was found in the trash bin by Imperial police Officer Ray Valenzuela and has survived the attack.

Escobar was arrested at the scene.

Owen and Imperial police investigators have said Escobar admitted he stabbed his cousin and said Escobar told investigators voices made him do it.

According to Owen and investigators, Escobar first planned to kill an 8-year-old cousin also in the house but decided Anthony would be an easier target.

During a previous hearing, Escobar had his bail increased from $100,000, a typical bail amount for an attempted murder case, to $1 million by Superior Court Judge Joseph Zimmerman.

Escobar remains in the county jail.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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