Monterey County

Huntsman to face death penalty

Prosecutors seek death penalty in child death case

SALINAS, Calif. - Tami Huntsman will face the death penalty when her murder case goes to trial.

She and another suspect, Gonzalo Curiel, are facing two counts of murder, felony child abuse and three counts of torture. The charges come with special circumstances that made Huntsman eligible for the death penalty.

Huntsman and Curiel are accused of abusing and killing Delylah Tara, 3, and her brother Shaun Tara, 6, and then dumping their bodies in a plastic bin in a Redding, CA storage facility.

The couple is also accused of abusing the children's older sister, who was found in Plumas County.

Curiel is not eligible for the death penalty because he was a minor when the alleged crimes were committed.

It wasn't an easy decision for the district attorney's office.

"(We) met with the defense counsel, and allowed them an opportunity to present to our office, Mr. Flippo, our senior management," said assistant district attorney Steve Somers. "We have discussed the issues with the victims' families, the various police agencies that have been involved in the cases and Mr. Flippo ultimately made the decision earlier this week."

One of the defense attorneys says he's disgusted.

"It makes me physically ill," said Jeremy Dzubay, who represents Curiel. "Why? Well the idea that the government to which I pay taxes, which I help to support, is going to seek to, in cold blood, is going to exterminate the life of a woman who has 12-year-old twins."

The trial is still slated to start next February. Prosecutors hope it's not pushed back, for the sake of some of the witnesses expected to testify.

"We have three children who are going to testify as witnesses and they need to move on with their lives and we need to get this over with, so our focus from the beginning was to expedite this as much as we can," said Somers. "We feel like 14 months is expediting it in a death penalty situation but it's also plenty of time to get prepared."

Lawyers on both sides will be back in court in three weeks to go over some procedural matters.

Huntsman's attorney didn't want to talk to us but said in court she was planning to file a motion to continue to trial date and ask for another lawyer to join her team.

Curiel's attorney says Wednesday's announcement will not change how he plans to defend his client. But changing the venue could be something on the table.

"That's a very distinct possibility," said Dzubay.

There's also no word if attorneys would consider severing the cases.

It's very rare for the Monterey County District Attorney's Office to pursue the death penalty. In his 20-plus years as D.A., Dean Flippo has sought it a handful of times. Most recently, Ronald Moore was convicted and condemned in 1999 for the death of a 12-year-old girl who interrupted a home burglary.

ORIGINAL POST: As Tami Huntsman sobbed quietly, Monterey County assistant district attorney Steve Somers told a judge Wednesday that prosecutors will seek the death penalty against  her.

Huntsman and and alleged co-conspirator Gonzalo Curiel are accused of killing two children -- Delylah Tara, 3, and Shaun Tara, 6, -- who were in their care.

KION's Mariana Hicks was in the courtroom today and will have a full report tonight at 5 and 6 p.m.

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