A psychology professor accused of setting up the 1995 slaying of a man she said had raped her has been ordered to stand trial in Orange County.
Norma Patricia Esparza, who grew up in Santa Ana and went on to become a respected professor in Europe, was arrested in the 19-year-old case in 2012 but had been free on bail and living in Europe where she was teaching in Geneva, when a judge revoked the bail last year.
Esparza is accused of helping set up the slaying of a man she said raped her when she was a college sophomore. She was ordered to stand trial following a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
Two others, Gianni Anthony Van and Shannon Gries, were also accused and are expected to face trial later this year. A third suspect, Diane Tran, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in January and is expected to testify in both trials. Another suspect, Kody Tran, killed himself in a standoff with police in 2012.
Prosecutors say Esparza and the others went to a Santa Ana bar in April 1995 so that she could point out her alleged rapist.
Hours later, Gonzalo Ramirez was found beaten and hacked to death with a meat cleaver. Prosecutors say Esparza conspired to commit the killing, though she did not actually carry it out.
Esparza's case has mobilized the support of thousands say she is a rape victim who is being unfairly victimized for a murder she did not commit.
Esparza is set to be arraigned in Orange County Superior Court on March 11.