Suspected Serial Killer on trial in Madera

March 3, 2009 7:11:25 PM PST
Trial for a suspected serial killer is underway in Madera County and it began with horrific testimony from a woman police say nearly became one of his murder victims. Jose Guerrero is accused of killing three women in Madera County in the 1990s.This is the first time in nearly a decade that the Madera County DA's office is seeking the death penalty. They accuse Jose Guerrero of committing brutally beating these women. One of the victims survived and told her shocking story to the jury.

Evelyn Estrada remembers what happened 14 years ago. Estrada said she met Jose Guerrero on the streets of Madera. She said she got in his truck back in November 1995.

"He grabbed me fast and threw his arm around my neck real quick. Stepped on the gas and had a knife on my throat," said Estrada.

Eventually ... They stopped on a dirt road.

"He went around the truck. First thing he did, open the door and started punching me," said Estrada.

Guerrero is accused of slashing Estrada's neck and face. The scares are still visible. Guerrero plead not guilty to the charges ... But at one point investigators say he confessed to the murders. He is also accused of killing three other women Julie Woodley ... Sharlene Fowler and Tamara Hernandez. If Guerrero is convicted of first degree murder plus a special circumstance ... He could face the death penalty. One special allegation is he sexually assaulted 30-year-old Sharlene Fowler and Hernandez. But the defense believes the sex was consensual.

Defense Attorney Eric Greene said, "We believe that the victims in this case had drug problems which will be demonstrated by the evidence and were engaged in the act of prostitution."

The prosecution will continue to call witness Wednesday morning. This trial is expected to last more than a month. At this point ... Guerrero is not expected to testify.

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