An ex-Marine charged with the stabbing deaths of a Yorba Linda woman, her son and four homeless men, including the son of a Leisure World woman, pleaded not guilty Tuesday.
Prosecutors sought a grand jury indictment, enabling them to avoid a preliminary hearing and speed up the legal process for Itzcoatl ``Izzy'' Ocampo. The
23-year-old Yorba Linda man is eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors have not decided whether to seek it.
Leisure World resident Marie Middaugh said she would be satisfied if her son's accused killer served a sentence of life in prison without parole.
``I would be satisfied with life in prison without parole,'' said Middaugh, mother of Lloyd ``Jim'' Middaugh, one of the four homeless men stabbed to death in what prosecutors allege were ``thrill killings.''
Marie Middaugh and her son-in-law Brad Olsen would not be pleased with an insanity plea, however.
``It upsets me because he needs to be responsible. It's a cop-out excuse,'' Marie Middaugh said.
``Why should he have a plush life'' in a mental hospital, Marie Middaugh said.
Ocampo's attorney, Randall Longwith, said he is digging into his client's background to prepare for a possible insanity defense. That includes getting documents from the military and talking to Ocampo's family about what he was like before going to Iraq.
``We're talking to as many family members as possible to determine a baseline as to what he was like before the war,'' Longwith said.
Longwith said he was waiting for the ``hundreds of hours'' of video evidence in the case. So far, he has received 1,200 pages of discovery.
``I think when we get (all of the evidence) the behavior that is depicted in the video interviews with police and police reports, I think that will go toward evidence of what we're seeing now -- that his mind was fractured at the time and he wasn't, for lack of a better word, sane,'' Longwith said.
Olsen said investigators told him they do not believe Middaugh was not Ocampo's initial target.
``My brother-in-law was not the intended victim,'' Olsen said. ``He knew who he wanted, but when he wasn't there that night instead of walking away he just jumped on (Middaugh).''
Longwith said that sort of allegation would not surprise him.
``That's what you're going to see throughout this case, bizarre, bizarre behavior, and that would fit in with it,'' he said.
Ocampo is due in court March 9 for a hearing to determine if both sides are ready for trial, Longwith said. The case has been assigned to Orange County
Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno.
Ocampo is charged with the Oct. 25 slayings of Raquel Estrada, 53, and her son, Juan Herrera, 34.
One of Estrada's sons, Eder Giovanni Herrera, was initially charged in the double killing, but prosecutors dropped charges against him when the evidence pointed to Ocampo, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.
Ocampo and Herrera were high school friends and lived about about a mile from one another at the time of the killings, Rackauckas said. He said he did not know how long it has been since the two have had contact.
Detectives eventually tied Ocampo to the killings via a ``DNA hit'' for the victims on an item of clothing collected from Ocampo's home, Rackauckas said.
Earlier, Ocampo was charged with fatally stabbing four homeless men, starting Dec. 20.
The first victim was 53-year-old James McGillivray, who was attacked as he slept outside a Placentia shopping center on Dec. 20. Eight days later, the body of Middaugh, 42, turned up on Anaheim's Santa Ana River Trail. Paulus Cornelius ``Dutch'' Smit, 57, was found dead behind the Yorba Linda library on Dec. 30.
Ocampo was arrested Jan. 13, shortly after he allegedly stabbed John Berry in Anaheim and was chased into a nearby mobile home park. Prosecutors allege Ocampo killed Berry because he spoke to a Los Angeles Times reporter for a story about the homeless killings.
Ocampo is a 2006 graduate of Esperanza High School who served an eight-
month deployment in Iraq in 2008 and was discharged in July 2010, according to Marine Corps Capt. Kevin Schultz.
- City News Service