Prosecutors to Test DNA in Cruz Murder Appeal

From Times Staff Reports

A Santa Barbara court hearing for an Oxnard man fighting to overturn his 1997 murder conviction is being delayed three weeks to allow prosecutors time to obtain DNA tests.

Efren Cruz, 26, was found guilty of murder and related charges in a gang-related shooting at a downtown Santa Barbara parking lot in January 1997.

Cruz is challenging that conviction based on a secretly taped jailhouse confession obtained from another suspect.

Santa Barbara prosecutors say they prosecuted the right man, however, and are trying to keep Cruz in prison.

On Thursday, they sought a three-week delay in Cruz's Santa Barbara Superior Court hearing to determine the source of blood found on him after the shooting, lawyers said. Judge Frank Ochoa granted the request.

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