Two registered sex offenders accused of raping and killing four women in Anaheim and Santa Ana, despite being fitted with GPS monitors, pleaded not guilty today to murder and other charges.
Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, will remain in custody without bail. They are due back in court June 6 for a pretrial hearing.
Defense attorney Houman Fakhimi appeared on behalf of Cano today, and the Associate Public Defender's Office will represent Gordon.
Cano and Gordon are both charged with four counts of murder and rape, with special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a rape, multiple murders and lying in wait.
Questions have been raised about the oversight of the two defendants, who were supposed to be wearing GPS monitors at the time of the attacks.
Cano was convicted in 2008 of lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14, while Gordon has two convictions from 1992 for lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14, as well as kidnapping his estranged wife in 2002, Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin said.
The men, both registered sex offenders, pleaded guilty last year to failing to register in Nevada and were sentenced to time served in custody, according to federal court documents. They both had their cases sent back to Orange County. Both were on federal probation and Cano was on state parole, Yellin said.
The two men had cut off their GPS devices before traveling to Las Vegas, officials said. They were put on lifetime supervised release and were again tracked with GPS monitors.
Gordon, whose case was returned to Santa Ana federal court last August, had appeared at status hearings in November and March 17 and was due to return to court this November.
Cano, who was on a state-issued GPS monitor, was put on parole on Oct. 19, 2009, and records show "three returns to parole in 2010 and 2011," according to the Department of Corrections.
Gordon, who was on a federally issued GPS monitor, was sent to prison for three years on Sept. 1, 1992, on a Los Angeles County conviction for lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14. He was paroled on Dec. 13, 1993, and discharged three years later, according to the Department of Corrections.
Gordon was sentenced to 10 years in prison on April 9, 2002, for kidnapping his estranged wife in Riverside County. He was released on Feb. 27, 2010, and discharged from parole on Nov. 9 of last year, according to the Department of Corrections.
After 21-year-old Jarrae Nykkole Estepp's body was discovered at a recycling facility in Anaheim on March 14, Santa Ana police contacted Anaheim investigators to share information about three other missing women.
Kianna Jackson, 20, of Las Vegas, was last seen in Santa Ana on Oct. 6, 2013, Anaheim police Lt. Bob Dunn said.
Josephine Vargas, 34, was last seen in Santa Ana on Oct. 24, 2013, and Martha Anaya, 28, was last seen in Santa Ana on Nov. 12, 2013. Vargas and Anaya were Santa Ana residents, Dunn said.
The bodies of Jackson, Vargas and Anaya have never been found.
Yellin said Cano and Gordon are transients who were living out of their cars and a recreational vehicle. With the help of federal and county officials, investigators were able to compile information from the duo's GPS tracking devices and match them to the movement of the victims, in part through the women's cell phone records, authorities said.
Police said all four victims had been known to frequent a rough Santa Ana neighborhood known for street prostitution and drug sales. Estepp had a record of street prostitution and other minor crimes.
--City News Service