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Christopher Holland, gray-bearded and hunched over, listened today in Santa Clara County Superior Court to testimony by two retired peace officers during a hearing on whether he should stand trial in the murder of a 21-year-old woman outside San Jose back in 1983. The former cold case murder of San Jose resident Tara Marowski was reopened last year by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which arrested Holland following results of DNA tests allegedly linking him to the murder, according to the district attorney’s office. Holland, 57, already has been charged in the 1983 murder of 17-year-old Cynthia Munoz, who was killed four months after Marowski was slain.
A 2007 preliminary hearing in that case also involved DNA results used as evidence. This week’s preliminary examination hearing, expected to end by Thursday, is to determine if enough evidence exists to try Holland for Marowski’s murder, Deputy District Attorney David Boyd said. The district attorney’s office has added special circumstances to the murder charges in both cases, alleging that Holland raped both women before killing them, Boyd said. If Holland is found guilty on either of the murder charges with special circumstances, he could face a sentence of life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty, Boyd said. The first witness in the hearing today, Mark Faler, a former Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy, described seeing Marowski’s nude body in the backseat of her 1973 Plymouth Duster on April 2, 1983, in unincorporated San Jose.
Faler, now 60, recalled as a deputy sheriff arriving at the scene at 997 Carola Ave., a couple of blocks north of the city of Campbell, at about 9 a.m. and soon noticing an odor coming from a slightly-opened window of the car. “It smelled like decayed human body to me,” Faler said under examination by Boyd. Faler testified that he approached the car, which was locked, looked in a window and noticed a human body in the backseat with clothing spread over it. He said he questioned a person at the scene, Brian Bueno, who told him his wife was a friend of Marowski’s, that Marowski had not been seen for a week, that he heard someone had seen her car and that he then drove to the spot and found it. Faler testified that after the coroner arrived to remove the body, clothing piled on top of the body was removed, revealing that the body was nude.
The second of the two witnesses, Ignacio Martinez, 78, said he was a sheriff’s homicide detective assigned to the Marowski murder probe in 1983 and later retired as a sergeant in 1995 after 18 years on the force. Martinez, who was contacted to testify in the case after Holland’s arrest last year, revealed to the district attorney’s office that he had found his original notes on the Marowski investigation, contact sheet photos from her autopsy and other case photographs in the garage of his home. But while on the stand, it became evident that Martinez, who is hard of hearing, would represent for the prosecution the difficulty of trying a criminal case 29 years after the alleged crime.
Martinez frequently asked Boyd to repeat his questions and needed to consult with his notes to recall basic facts. At one point, Boyd asked Martinez to read aloud from the notes the witness used to write a report on the murder in 1983. Defense attorney Michael Ogul then raised objections about allowing Martinez to testify via the notes, saying it amounted to “multiple hearsay,” but Santa Clara County Judge Julia Alloggiamento overruled him. Holland’s trial for Munoz’s murder is set to begin in January, but will be postponed until a future date over a discovery matter bought by the defense, Boyd said. Boyd, who is prosecuting both murder cases, said he expects to eventually combine the two cases for trial.
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