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Mercedes Carrera Trial Postponed Again, Amidst COVID Concerns

Mercedes Carrera Trial Postponed Again, Amidst COVID Concerns

Mercedes Carrera Trial Postponed Again, Amidst COVID Concerns

Monday, June 29, 2020

The pretrial hearing in the Mercedes Carrera criminal case concerning multiple child sexual abuse charges against her and her husband — which was supposed to happen tomorrow morning at the Rancho Cucamonga courthouse in San Bernardino County, California — has been postponed, once again, until July 20.

The pretrial hearing, the crucial date that would determine the jury selection process and the date of the beginning of the actual trial, has already been postponed several times, most recently sometime before May 1, when it was re-scheduled for tomorrow.

Carrera and her husband Jason Whitney were arrested after a police raid of their Rancho Cucamonga home on February 1, 2019.

Carrera and Whitney have been in county jail without trial for almost 17 months, first without bail and later, after they had liquidated their assets and had no source of income due to their incarceration, with bail set at $2 million for each.

The new date of July 20 — like the previous postponement — was entered at some point in the court records.

A document shows the hearing to set the new date took place June 6, with Carrera being present in custody, and with a different District Attorney, Laura Fragoso, and a different public defender, Brandon Lu, subbing for Carrera’s long-time lawyer Joshua Castro.

Previous postponements had been requested by Carrera's public defender and Whitney's pro bono attorney, who are coordinating their defense strategies.

Proceedings at the Rancho Cucamonga courthouse, which XBIZ was covering closely, have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is unclear whether hearings are occurring in person, via videoconferencing or through electronic filing.

Public Defender Castro has not given press updates since the start of the pandemic.

COVID Concerns

Carrera last spoke with XBIZ in early May, when she phoned from the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino. Inmates cannot be visited or receive phone calls. The only way to contact inmates is via paper letter, or by waiting for them to make a phone call.

Carrera told XBIZ she was resigned to spending several additional months in legal limbo at the jail. She said that “COVID is in the floor upstairs,” where inmates are housed “without proper social distancing.” She also explained that, according to courthouse word of mouth, inmates are discouraged from applying for early release because of COVID concerns because “some people who asked for early release or lowering of their bail, were actually given [an] increased bail.”

Two weeks ago, the Victor Valley News (VVN) reported another increase in San Bernardino County jail inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Of the 19 new cases, the VVN reported that “three inmates are at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto, three are at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, seven are at the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center and six are at the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino.”

By June 13, according to the paper, a total of 100 County jail inmates had tested positive for COVID-19.

An unusual coincidence in Carrera’s situation, which she brought to the attention of XBIZ several times, is that one of the doctors in charge of the health care and certification of the prisoners happens to be one of her estranged ex-husbands (not the father of her daughter).