A preliminary hearing in Santa Clara County Superior Court on two 1983 murder-rape cases filed against a San Jose man with the help of DNA evidence is set to start Tuesday with testimony from several former peace officers, according to the district attorney's office.
Christopher Melvin Holland, 57, is charged with murder with special circumstances for allegedly raping and killing two women 29 years ago and if convicted could be sentenced to life without parole or the death penalty, Deputy District Attorney David Boyd said.
Holland is charged in the brutal slaying of 17-year-old Cynthia Munoz, found raped, strangled and stabbed in her Campbell home on Aug. 7, 1983, hours after she visited her disabled boyfriend in the hospital, the district attorney's office said.
Holland was first charged with Munoz's death in 2007 after DNA tests on sperm cells from swabs taken from Munoz's body and preserved for 24 years by Campbell Police positively matched Holland's DNA, according to court documents.
On July 23, 2011, the district attorney's office charged Holland with the alleged murder and rape of Tara Marowski, 21, a resident of San Jose whose body was located inside her car in an unincorporated section of San Jose a few weeks after she turned up missing in March 1983.
In a 2007 preliminary hearing in the Munoz case, Holland's attorney claimed that one of Holland's friends, Brian Mendez, might have been the one who actually killed Munoz while drunk, according to court documents.
But a DNA analyst from the Santa Clara County Crime Lab testified that sperm from vaginal swabs from Munoz eliminated Mendez and two men who were roommates at the home where Munoz lived, according to court documents.
Boyd said he would have three or four retired peace officers and one current officer testify during the proceedings starting Tuesday and continuing this week.
At a brief hearing Monday before Santa Clara County Judge Julia Allogiamento, Holland's public defender Michael Ogul said he would use Dr. Joseph O'Hara, lead medical examiner of the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office, as a defense witness.
Ogul claimed that the original county medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Marowski's body in 1983 stated that the Marowski died of a "non-traumatic homicide."
The medical examiner from 1983 is now deceased. However, Ogul said that O'Hara has said he is not sure how Marowski died and that the defense would use his testimony to show a lack of probable cause that a homicide occurred, Ogul said.
Boyd countered that he will present evidence to show probable cause that Marowski's death was a traumatic homicide.
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