Riverside County, CA
The attorney for a former Coachella sheriff’s deputy accused of killing a man he viewed as a romantic rival is seeking to have the grand jury testimony that resulted in a murder charge sealed until the trial is completed.
Oscar Rodriguez, 36, is charged in the Jan. 27, 2014 shooting death of Luis Carlos Morin outside his family’s Coachella home. Morin’s ex-girlfriend, Diana Perez, 39, is charged with being an accessory.
The District Attorney’s Office initially cleared Rodriguez in the shooting, but a lawsuit filed against the county by Morin’s family led to a reopening of the investigation. The suit detailed the lawman’s alleged dating relationship with Perez, who had two children with the victim.
Rodriguez allegedly went to the home under the guise of arresting Morin for outstanding warrants, then grappled with him and shot him once in the upper body. Family members claim he hid in the bushes, then ambushed Morin after he and family members returned from a birthday celebration.
After Rodriguez was indicted in December, transcripts of the grand jury proceedings were ordered sealed for 10 days. The former deputy’s attorney, Mark W. Fredrick, got the order extended for a month — they are currently slated to be unsealed Wednesday — but is now seeking to have the transcripts sealed through the end of the trial.
A hearing to consider Fredrick’s motion is slated for Wednesday morning in an Indio courtroom.
Fredrick argues in court papers that news coverage of the indictment has been “extremely unfavorable to Mr. Rodriguez, convicting him of murder before a trial.” He says that in contrast, Morin has been “painted through news outlets as a loving and peaceful man.”
Fredrick also criticized District Attorney Mike Hestrin, saying the county’s top prosecutor “convicted Mr. Rodriguez in the press” and described him as a “rogue deputy,” “taking care of personal things.”
Rodriguez, who remains out of custody, faces life imprisonment if convicted, while Perez would face up to three years.