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June 28, 2022

Courts: Murder suspect Quiroz to appear again later this month

David J. Quiroz, the Hollister man accused in the killing of 25-year-old Heather Carroll, had his latest hearing delayed until later this month.

Quiroz, 33 at the time of the slaying, is suspected in the homicide of Carroll. She went missing Oct. 10 after dropping off her 5-year-old boy at Ladd Lane Elementary School. Two days later, police held a standoff with Quiroz at his home on Cerra Vista Drive before he surrendered and took them to Carroll’s body on the property.

Quiroz, who has pleaded not guilty to the crime, is facing charges on suspicion of homicide and kidnapping for ransom.

He has a setting for a preliminary hearing scheduled for 2 p.m. March 21 at the San Benito County Courthouse. Quiroz initially had a preliminary hearing set for March 4, but it was put off. The new preliminary hearing, where a judge can decide if there is enough evidence for a trial, will be scheduled at the March 21 appearance.

Quiroz is represented by public defender Gregory LaForge, who has challenged the admission given by Quiroz at the scene where authorities found the body.

Quiroz told investigators shortly after his arrest that he had started an argument between the two. Authorities had Quiroz in custody at about 3 a.m. after the overnight standoff. Police allege that Quiroz admitted to the killing and took authorities to her body, recovered at about 5:30 a.m.

In other court matters:

– Jorge Diaz, the homeless man accused in the March 2011 homicide of 72-year-old Francisco Rojas at a Hollister cemetery, is scheduled for a sentence hearing Thursday.

Diaz, initially charged with homicide, recently accepted a plea deal on a lesser charge and faces a likely sentence of six years in prison, according to court records.

His sentencing has been delayed several times, and is now set for 9 a.m. Thursday in room 101 of the San Benito County Courthouse.

Diaz, 35, previously pleaded not guilty in February 2012. He was accused of stabbing Rojas on March 30 of 2011 at the IOOF Cemetery on Buena Vista Road.

In January, Diaz agreed to accept a plea arrangement on a charge of voluntary manslaughter, with the homicide count dropped.

Judge’s notes in court records indicate a likely mid-term sentence of six years in state prison.

The nearly two-year court process began following the cemetery incident – after which witnesses described seeing Diaz with Rojas together moments before the murder. Diaz was found at another location in Hollister the day after the homicide.

Around 3:15 p.m. that day, deputies responded to the 600 block of Buena Vista after a report of a stabbing. Deputies found Rojas with a stab wounds in his heart and on his hands. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

If he had been convicted of homicide, Diaz would have faced 25 years to life in prison.

– The Hollister man suspected of arson and trying to set fire to a condominium complex faces a preliminary setting Thursday.

Jason W. Spears, 33, is charged on suspicion of four arson counts after neighbors reported him trying to set fire to a local condominium in early February. His next appearance at 2 p.m. Thursday is a preliminary setting, where a judge could schedule a preliminary hearing. At a preliminary hearing, a judge can decide if there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial.

The Hollister Police Department is also investigating whether Spears had any involvement with the recent string of arsons that have occurred in the city since November 2012, when a medical office building was destroyed by arson.

During the early morning hours Feb. 9, a resident of the Gibson Station complex witnessed Spears, who is also a resident there, attempting to set fire to a condominium, police alleged. The witness later spoke to neighbors who confronted and detained Spears before calling police.

Authorities found several areas on multiple condominiums where Spears allegedly attempted to set fire to the units. No serious damage was done.

Spears was arrested on charges alleging four counts of arson to an inhabited structure. He was booked into the San Benito County Jail.

Earlier that morning, police also responded to Luminous Salon located at 219 South St. for a similar arson. An exterior wall, interior curtain and light fixture were damaged by fire. Evidence linking Spears to this arson was recovered on him when he was arrested.

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