Courtroom Commotion in Triple Murder Trial

Pedro Miranda, the 51-year-old New Britain man suspected of killing three Hartford teens in the 1980s, was at the center of the storm in court Monday.

As Miranda entered court, three people in the packed crowd lashed out, including one of the victim's mothers.  The outbursts prompted the judge to delay the appearance and clear the courtroom until additional security was brought in.  Then, with State Police and Hartford Police looking on, Miranda's appearance went on.

Miranda, a registered sex offender, is charged in the deaths of Rosa Valentin, 16, Mayra Cruz, 13, and Carmen Lopez, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.  He was arrested Friday, at his home and is being held on suicide watch.

"Justice is gonna be served," said Hector Cardona, Carmen Lopez's cousin.  

The Murders

The first victim, Rosa Valentin, 16, died in 1986 after accepting a ride from Miranda.  Her body has never been found.  Outside court, her relatives cried as they clutched her picture.  "This creature took our sister," said Israel Valentin, Rosa's brother.
The second victim, Mayra Cruz, 13, died in 1987 after failing to return home from school.  Witnesses say they saw her in Miranda's car.  "We always felt that it could be him but we were never 100 percent sure," said Wanda Cruz, Mayra's sister.
The third victim, Carmen Lopez, 17, died in 1988.  She was an acquaintance of Miranda's.  Authorities say she was pregnant when she died.  "I feel mad.  I feel sad," said Carmen's mother Ana Lopez. 

The Wrong Man?

An Innocence Project investigation led to his arrest, which could lead to a new trial for a convicted man.

Miguel Roman, who was a Lopez’s former boyfriend, has served 20 years of a 60-year sentence in her death. She went missing on Jan. 2, 1988 and was found strangled three days later in an apartment on Nelton Court in Hartford.

An Innocence Project investigation led to his arrest, which could lead to a new trial for a convicted man.

The Cold Case Unit started investigating in July 2008 after the Connecticut Innocence Project of the State of Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services brought new information about the murders to Office of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Hartford.

A petition for a new trial was filed on Dec. 2, on Roman’s behalf and is pending in the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford. The State's Attorney for the Judicial District of Hartford is reviewing the petition.

Valentin, 16, was last seen alive in Miranda’s car on July 26, 1986. Her body has never been found and she is presumed dead, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice. Miranda was charged wit one count of murder in her death.

Cruz, 13, was reported missing when she did not return home from school in Hartford on Oct. 8, 1987. Her body was found in a wooded area in East Windsor on Nov. 8, 1987. Miranda is charged with one count each of capital felony, felony murder, murder and kidnapping in the first degree in connection with her death.

Miranda was convicted in the May 29, 1998, sexual assault of a 24-year-old woman in West Hartford and was required to register on the State of Connecticut Sex Offender Registry.

Miranda is charged with capital felony, felony murder and murder. He is being held on $7.5 million bond his case was continued to Dec. 16.

Miranda faces multiple charges of capital felony and murder. He could face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

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