The Orange County Grand Jury on Thursday indicted John J. Famalaro on charges of sexual assault, murder and kidnaping in the death of Denise Huber, increasing the possibility that he will face the death penalty if convicted.
The indictment is the first formal accusation of sexual assault in the case, which began when Huber’s naked, handcuffed corpse was found this summer in a freezer in Famalaro’s Arizona driveway. Huber, 23, a Newport Beach waitress, had disappeared three years earlier.
Sources confirmed this week that police discovered semen in Huber’s body.
After two days of testimony by 15 witnesses--including detectives, medical examiners and Huber’s friends and relatives--the grand jury indicted Famalaro, 37, on charges of first-degree murder with the special circumstances of sodomy, kidnaping, attempted sodomy and attempted kidnaping.
The special circumstances make Famalaro, a handyman, subject to the death penalty, though prosecutors have not decided whether to seek his execution. He is being held without bail in the Orange County Jail.
Famalaro has pleaded not guilty to murder and kidnaping and is expected to plead not guilty to the additional charges at his arraignment Tuesday.
Deputy Public Defender Leonard Gumlia, who is representing Famalaro, said that while the sodomy charges complicate the case, he was expecting them based on the reports that semen was found in Huber’s body.
But Gumlia warned that the samples may be too small to be conclusively linked to Famalaro, whether the sodomy occurred before or after the woman’s death, and whether it was forced. Forensic tests on the semen are ongoing.
“Anybody who thinks they know what happened that night is only guessing,” he said.
Autopsy reports released Wednesday show that Huber, who disappeared after a rock concert June 3, 1991, suffered at least 14 blows to the head and a fractured nose. The condition of her body left authorities unable to pinpoint the time of her death, the report says. No obvious sign of sexual trauma was found in the autopsy.