Date set for new trial in murder
The date for a new trial has been set for a man convicted in 2013 of the 2000 murder of a homeless woman in Madera.
Madera County Superior Court Judge Dale J. Blea has ordered Frank William Hogan, 42, to return on Oct. 20 and Feb. 7 for preparation and confirmation for the new trial, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 14.
Judge Blea had set a pretrial hearing for July 7 back in May, when Hogan’s new attorney, Antonio Alvarez, requested 30 to 45 days to review evidence of the case.
“I’ve had time to go over everything,” Alvarez said after the Thursday hearing. “To go over the transcripts and all the reports.”
Hogan was convicted in 2013 for the sexual assault and murder of Linda Marie Richards, 49, in Madera.
Richards, a U.S. Air Force veteran, had become homeless before her death. Her body was found on Yosemite Avenue, near J Street, on Sept. 1, 2000. The cause of death was revealed to have been blunt-force trauma to the head.
Hogan’s DNA, which was found in Richards’ body, led to his arrest in 2008, while he was living in Oregon.
The DNA served as the key evidence for the prosecution. Found guilty of first-degree murder and sodomy, Hogan was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and was being held at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe.
Hogan’s conviction was overturned by a Fresno appellate court in February. Hogan argued that evidence crucial to his defense had been erroneously excluded by Judge Joseph A. Soldani, primarily that Richards may have been involved in prostitution.
Hogan’s defense also argued that the amount of time between Hogan’s reported intercourse with Richards and her time of death was erroneously excluded from the first trial. His defense also cited character evidence in favor of Hogan, and questioned Richards’ character.
It is the position of the defense that Hogan indeed had sex with Richards, but that it was with the victim’s consent, after which someone else sexually assaulted and murdered her. According to court records, Hogan stated that he regularly solicited prostitutes. He also stated, however, that he did not remember Richards.
Despite the ruling, District Attorney David A. Linn is confident that the prosecution’s case against Hogan remains solid.
“I don’t really believe it’s new evidence; it’s been there all along,” Linn said. “It’s just a new interpretation of the existing evidence by the defense, so I don’t believe it’s going to change the verdict in the long run.”
“The ethical duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Traci Wise, who will lead the prosecution. “It’s not only for the victim and her family, but also for the defendant and society as a whole.”