California: The Fresno Bee, Sunday, March 17, 2002

Madera judge delays hearing in murder

Decision set for April 5 in Andrea Born case.

By Charles Mcarthy
The Fresno Bee

MADERA—A preliminary hearing for a Fresno man charged in the 1997 Andrea Born murder case was delayed Friday when a woman challenged her subpoena to testify.

Madera County Judge Thomas Bender delayed ruling on whether the evidence against defendant Jacob Lee Travis, 32, was sufficient to hold a trial.

Travis was arrested in March 2001 and charged with murder in the July 4, 1997, death of the 20-year-old California State University, Fresno, student.

Bender will decide on the evidence April 5 after he hears arguments from Fresno lawyer Frank R. Butler about whether his client Tracy Ann Tavares of Fresno should be given immunity in exchange for her testimony.

A state investigator alleged Friday that Travis was driving Tavares' car at the time the victim was shot twice in the head and driven to an olive orchard near Freeway 99 and Avenue 7 in Madera County.

Tavares isn't charged in the Born case. On July 8, 1997 she reported the car stolen. It was later found in a garage in Lancaster.

State Department of Justice agent supervisor Vincent R. Zavala testified that he interviewed a witness who described how the victim's body was dumped in the orchard and burned.

Zavala said the witness told investigators that he later drove Tavares' car to Lancaster after he was given the keys.

State Deputy Attorney General Jesse Witt said that the witness was not subpoenaed to testify because hearsay testimony is sufficient in preliminary hearings.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to subpoena the man for testimony if Travis is held for trial, Witt said.

No criminal charges in the Born case have been filed against the witness.

Family members of both Travis and Born sat quietly on opposite sides of the courtroom during Friday's testimony.

The reporter can be reached at cmccarthy@fresnobee.com or 675-6804.

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