SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – It has been almost a full year since we first reported on the brutal murder of Bambi Larson, allegedly at the hands of an undocumented immigrant in San Jose.
But the man accused of the murder, Carlos Carranza, has yet to enter a formal plea.
Carranza remains locked up in the county jail but he is not expected to begin trial anytime soon.
The case has been reassigned to a different prosecutor and the defense needs more time to assess the defendant’s mental health and election-year politics may also be contributing to the delay.
24-year-old Carlos Arevalo Carranza is alleged to have stalked, beaten and fatally stabbed 59-year-old Bambi Larson on February 28, 2019.
Evidence includes a security video showing him outside her home that day.
A plea hearing last Friday was postponed in part to allow the defense more time to assess Carranza’s mental health, says legal analyst and former prosecutor Steven Clark.
“So they want to look into all aspects of this case before they enter a plea because they may not know what plea they want to enter at this point, whether there’s some issue in Mr. Carranza’s background that would suggest he’s suffering from some mental illness,” Clark said.
Larson’s murder outraged the community when it came out that Carranza was a convicted felon and undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who had been ordered, detained by federal authorities and had been released from the Santa County Jail twice before Larson’s murder.
Given the potential for politicizing local sanctuary policies, both the prosecution and defense would likely prefer to go to trial after the coming election, says Clark.
“President Trump took the Kate Stinely case and made that part of his election platform and he could take the Bambi Larson case and reignite this debate towards his reelection because this is an example of how sanctuary cities and the policies can be very dangerous to the community,” Clark said.
Clark recalls how the case garnered a lot of pre-trial publicity and says a change of venue is not off the table for the defense.
Jury selection will be key says Clark and both sides will be hard-pressed to avoid the perception that sanctuary cities will be on trial right alongside Carranza.
“What both sides want to do in this case, is try not to have the sanctuary city debate come into the courtroom and permeate the jury selection process which I think send the message to the community that we are only going to judge this man by what he is accused of doing and looking at the facts surrounding this case, not his immigration history,” Clark said.