SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS/ FOX 11) - Opening statements will be delivered Wednesday in the death penalty trial of a registered sex offender who plans to represent himself against charges that he raped and murdered four prostitutes in Anaheim and Santa Ana.
Steven Dean Gordon, 47, earlier this year won the right to defend himself in his death penalty trial. Co-defendant Franc Cano, 30, of Anaheim, who also faces the death penalty, will be tried separately.
The process of jury selection in the case began before voters went to the polls and rejected a bid to eliminate the death penalty in California. That vote cleared the way for Gordon to face the two-phase trial, which will first focus on whether he is guilty of the crimes and then, if convicted, will have jurors weighing whether to recommend life in prison without the possibility of parole or death.
Cano and Gordon, both registered sex offenders, allegedly went on a rampage that led to the deaths of the four victims, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin.
Only the body of 21-year-old Jarrae Nykkole Estepp was found. Investigators recovered her remains on March 14, 2013, in an Anaheim recycling facility.
The other victims were Kianna Jackson, 20, of Las Vegas, Josephine Vargas, 34, and Martha Anaya, 28, both of Santa Ana.
Copyright 2016 FOX 11 Los Angeles : Download our mobile app for breaking news alerts or to watch FOX 11 News | Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Be a citizen journalist for FOX 11 and get paid – download the Fresco News App today.