A woman charged along with two men in the murder of a wealthy Monte Sereno man pleaded not guilty today in Santa Clara County Superior Court and a judge set a preliminary hearing for Nov. 19. With her not guilty plea, Katrina Fritz, 32, is the only one of the three defendants in the Nov. 30, 2012, murder and robbery of 66-year-old Raveesh Kumra to enter a plea. Fritz’s attorney argued that by entering her plea, Fritz had the legal right to request a preliminary hearing within only 10 days, but lawyers for her co-defendants said they needed more time to review evidence in the case. Chris Givens, representing co-defendant Javier Garcia, told Judge Daniel Nishigaya that he had only received discovery documents today and that Garcia was not ready to plea to the charges. Nishigaya set the preliminary hearing for the three defendants for Nov. 19 after Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith said that the proceedings would take about three days.
Fritz, Garcia, 21, and Fritz’s brother Deangelo Austin, 21, are charged with murder and robbery with special circumstances in the death of Kumra, a former winery owner. Kumra died of asphyxiation after he was tied up and gagged during a late-night home invasion and robbery of cash and valuables in his home in Monte Sereno, prosecutors said. The man’s wife, Harinder Kumra, was also bound and beaten but was able to contact police after the robbery. Prosecutors allege that Garcia and Austin carried out the robbery with the assistance of Fritz. Cellphone records show Fritz and Austin were talking with one another during events at the Kumra home and that she continued to help her brother as he was wanted by Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police, according to prosecutors.
Garcia and Austin also are charged with false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon in the beating of Harinder Kumra with a blunt instrument, according to prosecutors. The district attorney’s office alleges that Austin is a member of “The Money Team,” an Oakland-based street gang, and that Garcia is a member of another Oakland gang, “Ghost Town.” Fritz was among the prostitutes whom Kumra once hired and entertained at his home on Withey Road in Monte Sereno and in hotels in nearby Los Gatos, according to prosecutors. The district attorney’s office dropped charges against two other defendants in Kumra’s murder, Raven Dixon and Lukis Anderson, in June.
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