New Details ... Livingston Woman Burned to Death

August 25, 2010 10:43:07 AM PDT
Four men accused of burning a woman to death in Merced County will have to wait more than a month to find out if they'll face a murder trial.Attorneys spent hours interviewing witnesses. But at the end of the day they asked for more time to review the evidence before the judge rules on whether the suspects will go to trial for one of the cruelest crimes in Merced County's recent history.

Television cameras were not allowed in this courtroom during Friday's hearing ...

However these still photos show each of the four suspects with their own attorneys and Spanish interpreters. Urbano Ortega, Alvaro Reyes, Omar Cebrero, and Luis Valencia are accused of setting Rosa Avina on fire in this Ballico orchard the night of October 23rd, 2007. Merced County Sheriff's Deputies testified the men admitted to running back to their car and leaving Avina for dead when they heard her screaming. Detectives say she managed to crawl to a nearby home where farmworkers found her badly burned and barely conscious.

"I could see her face was nasty, her body was nasty."

District Attorney Larry Morse says the men planned a fake home invasion robbery in order to kidnap and then punish Avina because she had stolen drugs from them.

A fifth man, Luis Vazquez, accepted a plea deal in exchange for his testimony. Vazquez admitted that he helped kidnap

Avina and put her in the trunk of a car. He also testified that Cebrero, Valencia, and Ortega are to blame for the murder while Reyes took part in the planning. Defense attorneys did not want to comment on camera, but in court they each raised questions about how involved their own clients actually were in Avina's death. However Morse says they all contributed to one of the most gruesome crimes he's ever prosecuted.

The suspects will be back in court March 3rd.

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