A 26-year-old Yorba Linda man who spent three months in jail for the horrific fatal stabbings of his mother and brother--until the slayings were blamed on presumed serial killer Itzcoatl "Izzy" Ocampo--has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Brea Police Department and a separate court action seeking the return of his belongings from Orange County authorities. However, police and prosecutors claim evidence exists that leads them to continue regarding Eder Giovanni Herrera a suspect in the case.
Raquel Estrada, 53, was stabbed more than 30 times in her upper body and her 34-year-old son Juan Herrera was stabbed more than 60 times before their bodies were left on the floor of their Yorba Linda home on Oct. 25, 2011.
Two days later, Estrada's other son, Eder Giovanni Herrera, who lived in the same home, was arrested for the murders after a traffic stop by Brea Police, who patrolled Yorba Linda under contract at the time. The Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) later charged Herrera with two counts of murder, and his bail was set at $2 million.
At a May 2012 press conference, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced he would seek the death penalty for Ocampo and delivered this bombshell: the presumed serial killer was not only tied to the fatal stabbings of four homeless men through Jan. 13 of that same year but that his first known alleged slayings were of Estrada and Juan Herrera.
Rackauckas revealed Eder Herrera had been released from Orange County Jail at that time but that he could be re-arrested if the investigation revealed he had something to do with the murders of his mother and brother. Herrera's actions after the killings were "suspicious," according to T-Rack, who noted the murder scene was near fellow 24-year-old Ocampo's family home and that both had been friends in middle school and high school.
Ocampo, who apparently committed suicide in Orange County Jail while awaiting trial, has been upgraded to the "best friend" of Eder Herrera in an Associated Press report on the later man's legal complaints against Orange County law enforcement.
His federal civil rights suit accuses police of wrongful imprisonment and seeks to derail deportation proceedings to Mexico, a country he hardly knows. Herrera is seeking access to police evidence and unspecified monetary damages.
Meanwhile, he is scheduled to make his case in Orange County Superior Court on Friday for the return of his belongings, including a laptop computer his mother gave him and family videos seized by police.
But prosecutors and Brea Police Chief Jack Conklin say "significant circumstantial evidence" still exists to consider Herrera a suspect, although what exactly that is has not been specified. New evidence has also been uncovered, according to investigators, who have declined to say whether that involves Herrera.
Curiously, investigators say Herrera and Ocampo had a falling out before the latter decided to kill Herrera and his family. But Eder Herrera is said to have left shortly after Ocampo arrived, and the discharged Marine fatally stabbed Raquel and Juan Herrera anyway.
Eder Herrera, considered the prime suspect in the murders, was locked up within days, and he remained behind bars while Ocampo presumably went on his chilling killing spree. John Burton, Herrera's attorney, accuses Orange County authorities of having so "fixated" on his client, they let the real killer roam free to up the body count.
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The OCDA's Susan Price reportedly told the Associated Press her office has no problem returning belongings to Herrera that are no longer considered evidence.
Herrera told the AP that he fears the same cloud of suspicion over him that prevented him from properly mourning his mother and brother could have him deported.
"My mind is clean and my heart is clean," he reportedly said. "I am more concerned with the loss of my family and having to deal with that."