Originally created 03/10/99

Slaying suspect's bond denied



APPLING -- A judge denied a slaying suspect's request for bond Tuesday, citing concern for the man's well-being.

Superior Court Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet swiftly denied the motion for bond offered by attorneys for Narciso P. Pineda Sr. -- charged with murder in the Thanksgiving Day slayings of three adults and an unborn child at a Gordon Highway mobile home park.

"I'm concerned about this man's safety, and that he is a flight risk," Judge Overstreet said. "I believe he's safer where he is now than he would be at home."

Where Mr. Pineda, 48, is now -- a cell in the Columbia County Detention Center -- has been the man's home since Dec. 1, when he was extradited from North Carolina to face charges in the Nov. 26 shootings of 41-year-old Prisca Rosales Vazquez; her unborn child; her husband, Leonel Vazquez, 42; and their neighbor Mario Molina, also 42.

Concerns about Mr. Pineda's safety, and that of his family, were raised by his attorneys, Peter Johnson and Jacque Hawk, who said they had information about relatives of the slain men who allegedly were plotting revenge.

Members of Mr. Pineda's family had told them that armed men were coming from Mexico to avenge the deaths of Mr. Molina and Mr. and Mrs. Vasquez, Mr. Hawk said.

"They have been warned and told that these people are on the way and their sole purpose is to kill them," he said.

Mr. Hawk and Mr. Johnson also told Judge Overstreet they would need protection from sheriff's officers to ensure their safety when interviewing prospective witnesses for the trial.

"I have concerns for the safety of our client and for ourselves as well," Mr. Hawk said.

District Attorney Danny Craig was disturbed that defense attorneys had raised the revenge rumors in open court because he already had assured them of his assistance in the matter, he said.

"All this talk is unnecessary," he said, addressing the court.

After the hearing, Mr. Craig said he thought Mr. Hawk had introduced the revenge plot as a way to sensationalize the case.

"The only thing that he could possibly do, after the assurances he has received, is to prejudice a future pool of jurors," he said.

Both police and prosecutors said Tuesday that they had heard no rumors of revenge being plotted against the Pineda family.

A trial date for Mr. Pineda, who faces a possible death sentence if found guilty in the case, is not expected to be set before May.

S.B. Crawford can be reached at 868-1222, Ext. 111, or scraw@augustachronicle.com.