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Jury Selection Underway in Valcarenghi Murder Trial

Chico, Calif. -- Monday is the first day of jury selection for Marc Valcarenghi's murder trial.

Posted: Apr 30, 2018 4:17 PM

Chico, Calif. -- Monday is the first day of jury selection for Marc Valcarenghi's murder trial.

The 35-year-old Chico homeless man is accused of brutally attacking and killing 34-year-old Audra Houston at the Safari Inn motel in Chico last July.

“The hiding of the body under the bed is unusual. Also unusual is the brutality of the murder,” said Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

Investigators believe Valcarenghi violently beat and strangled Houston before wrapping her body in plastic and hiding it under the bed.

Lawrence White is the resident manager at the Matador motel in Chico. He says Valcarenghi stayed there for about a week, but White asked him to leave after he says he was inviting homeless people in the room, fighting with other guests, and not letting the housekeepers come in to clean his room.

He said Valcarenghi would then go around the back and try to climb through people's windows.

Ramsey says this case has gone along fairly quickly, and is happy to have a trial within a year.

Valcarenghi's dad is a well-known doctor in Chico, but Ramsey doesn't think that will be a problem for selecting the jury, which he says should take about a week.

“Those people in Chico that know his father and feel that's going to cause a difficulty for them will be excused, but that will be a very small percentage of the entire jury pool.”

He doesn't think it will be an issue of whether this was a murder, but whether it's first or second degree.

He says the defense will likely use something like a heat-of-fashion argument, saying the two had an interaction that got out of control.

“We're going to be saying, ‘yes, that interaction got out of control, but the fact of the strangulation and the beating beforehand shows a deliberate and premeditated murder,’” Ramsey said.

He believes they will be able to convince the jury this was a first degree murder.

Valcarenghi previously pleaded not guilty to the murder. He faces 25-years to life in prison if he's found guilty.

Ramsey said he expects this trial to go for three to four weeks, and he said no possible motive for the murder has been released.

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A disturbance moved over northern California and the rest of the Pacific Northwest this afternoon. It brought more gusty wind like yesterday, and cooler air, but only isolated rain showers. It will be much quieter this weekend with a late summer warmup.
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