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Defense Wants Paint-Roller Attack Trial Transferred

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Extensive news coverage and the recall drive against an Orange County judge may make a fair trial impossible for the last defendants in the slaying of a San Clemente teen-ager speared in the head with a paint roller, their defense lawyers said Wednesday.

Attorneys for Saul Gutierrez Penuelas and Rogelio Vasquez Solis, both 19, said they will likely try to transfer the murder trial out of Orange County to avoid juror bias and skirt possible pressure on Orange County Superior Court Judge Kathleen E. O’Leary, who is assigned the case.

“It’s not fair to put [judges] in a position where they would be facing recall just as Judge Dickey is,” said David Dworakowski, a deputy public defender representing Penuelas.

The mother of victim Stephen L. Woods, 17, heads a recall drive against Superior Court Judge Everett W. Dickey, who sentenced two earlier defendants to the California Youth Authority instead of prison. Kathy Woods and supporters have protested the sentence as too lenient.

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Change-of-venue motions are not uncommon, but the political backdrop in this case is unusual.

Attorney Shirley J. MacDonald, representing Solis, said she is confident O’Leary would not succumb to outside pressure, but “it’s something we need to address.”

Deputy District Atty. Gary S. Paer said he will oppose a transfer as unnecessary and costly.

The defense lawyers said they first will survey Orange County residents about the slaying and recall effort. O’Leary scheduled a Feb. 2 hearing.

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Stephen L. Woods died Nov. 9. 1993, three weeks after he was speared in the head during a clash between two groups of teen-agers near San Clemente State Beach.


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