An Oklahoma man pleaded not guilty Thursday to capital murder charges stemming from the shotgun killings of a woman and her 4-year-old daughter who were returning home from grocery shopping in Long Beach.
Brandon Ivan Colbert Jr., 22, of Tulsa, is charged with the killings of Carina Mancera, 26, and her daughter, Jennabel Anaya. They were shot near Ninth Street and Locust Avenue about 10:20 p.m. Aug. 6. Police have not determined a motive.
The murder charges includes the special circumstance allegations of murder while lying in wait and multiple murders. Colbert is also charged with the attempted murder of the child’s father, Luis Anaya, who escaped injury.
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty against Colbert, who allegedly hid behind a sign and opened fire on the family with a shotgun.
Despite facing a possible death sentence, Colbert asked Thursday that he be permitted to act as his own attorney.
An attorney hired by his family, Matthew Fletcher, spoke out against the request. He told reporters outside court that Colbert “has a long history of mental illness.”
“It’s been well-reported, well-documented,” Fletcher said. “In his mind he believes that no one can represent him better than himself, because he believes he’s the one most interested in a good outcome. He’s just terribly wrong.”
Colbert is due back in court Jan. 12. He remains jailed without bail.
He was booked in November in connection with the killings after DNA evidence linked him to the crime, police said.
Long Beach police Chief Robert Luna said Colbert had been in custody since Aug. 27, when he was arrested by Los Angeles police on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle and a DNA swab was obtained from him.
In October, police released two pieces of surveillance footage of the suspect, who was seen at a convenience store near the scene of the shooting. The other footage was taken on a Metro Blue Line train which goes between downtown Los Angeles and downtown Long Beach.
Luis Anaya told investigators that a man walked up to his longtime girlfriend and their daughter and suddenly — without provocation — opened fire, then ran off. He said he did not recognize the man, nor did anyone else in the neighborhood.
The gunman also fired at Anaya, but missed, according to police.
–City News Service