Defendants want own trials

GILROY
– One of Gilroy’s biggest murder trials in years – a murder-for
hire case scheduled to begin Nov. 18 – will likely be delayed at
least a week because of recent legal maneuvering by three of the
five attorneys involved.
GILROY – One of Gilroy’s biggest murder trials in years – a murder-for hire case scheduled to begin Nov. 18 – will likely be delayed at least a week because of recent legal maneuvering by three of the five attorneys involved.

The trial includes four defendants: Gustavo Covian, 39, Maria Covian, 28, Ignacio Covian, 31 and Kyung Kim, 46 – all charged with involvement in the November 1998 disappearance and suspected murder of 49-year-old Young Kim, Kyung Kim’s husband of 24 years and owner of the former Gavilan Restaurant at 6120 Monterey Road.

Attorneys for Gustavo and Maria Covian – former husband and wife – have requested severance hearings to argue that their clients should be tried separately from the other defendants, including each other.

The first of the two severance hearings was scheduled to take place before county Superior Court Judge William Danser this morning in San Jose, but has been delayed to the day of the trial because of a request from Deputy District Attorney Peter Waite, who is prosecuting the case. Danser will not oversee the murder trial.

“I want the judge who is trying the case to hear the severance,” said Waite, explaining his request to delay the severance until the scheduled pre-trial date on Nov. 18. “It makes sense, and it follows the law.”

If a severance is granted to one or both of the defendants, it could make a big difference in the case, said Thomas Worthington, Gustavo Covian’s attorney. It will also delay the trial, possibly for several weeks – giving the attorneys time to adjust their arguments to respond to the changes.

“I don’t think my client will have a fair trial if he is tried with his brother (Ignacio),” Worthington said of his reasoning for the severance request. “Ignacio’s previous statements he made on tape could be used unfairly against my client.”

But Waite said he will not agree to grant a severance to separate the two brothers.

“I will agree to try the males and females separately, but I want to keep the brothers together,” he said. “The way the evidence is set up, the two brothers should logically be tried together.”

A severance hearing for Maria Covian is currently scheduled for Nov. 15, but will likely be delayed until Nov. 18, according to Waite.

If convicted of the first-degree murder charges, the defendants could face life in prison without parole. All four of the defendants are currently behind bars in the Santa Clara County Jail without the possibility of bail.

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