Wednesday, 08 December 2021

Leister murder: New trial date for Munoz


Munoz is accused of murdering 26-year-old Clearlake resident Leah Leister. He was tried before Mann earlier this year, but that trial ended in a hung jury.


Mann ordered a new trial for Munoz to begin April 17, 2007, in his Department 3 courtroom in Lakeport.


By the time Munoz's next trial gets under way, it will have been more than five years since the single mother was found murdered in her Clearlake apartment in March 2002. Leister's throat was slashed twice and she was stabbed repeatedly.


In April 2002, Clearlake Police arrested Munoz, then living in Clearlake, for Leister's murder.


Munoz has pleaded not guilty to the crime.


After 12 trial date postponements and numerous attorneys who represented Munoz before leaving the case, the county officially began Munoz's trial proceedings on Aug. 1, with pre-trial motions and jury selection getting under way.


On Aug. 31, opening arguments began, and Hinchcliff – who has remained on the case through years of delays – began calling witnesses, 26 in all. The District Attorney's Office did not seek the death penalty but instead pursued a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.


During trial testimony, it was stated that Munoz had told the detectives who interviewed him about the murder that Norteno gang members ordered him to carry out Leister's murder. One witness testified to seeing Munoz covered in blood and saying that Leister wouldn't die.


Sonoma County attorney George Boisseau defended Munoz in the trial, which ended in a hung jury – with jurors split 11-1 – in October.


For the past four years, Munoz has sat in county jail as the Lake County District Attorney's Office has attempted to bring him to trial.


Because the District Attorney's Office considers him a flight risk, he remains in jail without bail.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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