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Westminster : Judge, Jurors Gather in Death-Case Reunion

Jurors in the Joselito Cinco murder trial in Westminster reportedly were shocked to hear that he committed suicide last year, six months after he was sentenced to death for the slaying of two San Diego police officers.

When many of them called the court and the district attorney’s office to ask questions, the prosecutors and the judge decided that they should have a reunion to discuss the case.

Friday morning, most of the jurors and the prosecutors got together with Superior Court Judge Luis A. Cardenas in his courtroom to talk about the case. Afterward, Cardenas treated everyone to lunch at his expense.

“We spent eight months together on this case; we became like family,” Cardenas said.

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Cinco, 26, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the Sept. 14, 1984, slayings of Kimberly Sue Tonahill, 24, of La Mesa and Timothy Ruopp, 31, of San Diego when the officers confronted him and some of his friends in Balboa Park. Another officer was wounded in the melee. The case came to Orange County on a change of venue from San Diego County because of the voluminous publicity about the case there.

Jurors returned a death verdict against Cinco, rejecting life without parole.

Cinco claims he shot the officers in a drug-induced state during an argument with them. On June 10, 1988, Judge Cardenas refused to set aside the jury verdict and sentenced Cinco to death.

“The jurors just had a lot of questions about what happened, and the prosecutors and I thought it would be good for us to all get together again,” Cardenas said.

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