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Published: Tuesday, 3/22/2005

Dismissal sought in 1974 slaying case

A month away from a trial for a 1974 killing, the attorney for suspect David Delacruz has asked a judge to dismiss the charge, arguing the 30-year gap makes it unfairly difficult to mount a defense.

During a three-hour hearing in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday, Delacruz's attorney, David Klucas, peppered two Toledo detectives with questions about what police did to find Delacruz after the murder of James "Ronnie" Hendricks, 28, on Oct. 3, 1974.

Days after the killing, detectives filed a murder warrant and told Texas authorities that Delacruz may have fled there. But Toledo police didn't resume a search for Delacruz until the last year or two, the detectives said.

An Internet search found Delacruz, 61, last fall living in south Texas, still using his real name and birth date.

Mr. Klucas claimed the delay has made it hard to find some witnesses and question others who have died - violating Delacruz's right to due process.

But, in prosecutor Ian English's questioning of detectives, they confirmed that Delacruz had fled the Toledo area immediately after the shooting and could not be positively located until last year, when he was arrested.

A private investigator for the defense also could not say what key information could be provided from witnesses who couldn't be questioned.

Both attorneys have two weeks to file formal arguments with Judge Charles Wittenberg, who expects to make a decision before the start of Delacruz's trial, set to begin April 26.

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