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Jury selection to wrap up in trial of man accused of killing one woman and raping another

Published On: Jul 08 2013 11:15:50 AM CDT
MURRIETTA, Calif. -

 A jury is expected to be seated Monday in the trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting two women -- one of whom died -- during break-ins at a senior apartment complex in Hemet.

   Kenneth Daniels, 26, of San Jacinto could face the death penalty if convicted of a dozen felony charges, including first-degree murder, elder abuse, forcible rape and special circumstance allegations of killing during the commission of a rape and during the commission of a burglary.

   Jury selection got underway a month ago. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez has summoned some 320 prospective jurors to the Southwest Justice Center for questioning on their availability and qualifications. He's expected to swear in a panel today, but opening statements are not scheduled until next week. 

   Daniels, who has been in custody without bail since Dec. 28, 2007, is accused in three separate assaults -- two of which involved the same woman -- at the Oak Terrace Apartments at 551 N. Santa Fe St., a gated facility reserved for residents 55 and over.

   Daniels allegedly broke into the apartment complex in the predawn hours of Aug. 21, Oct. 19 and Dec. 11, 2007. In the latter instance, 74-year-old Rosemarie Edwin was beaten to death.

   Daniels allegedly forced his way into the wheelchair-dependent victim's apartment and attempted to sexually assault her, but she apparently resisted. 

   Daniels repeatedly struck the woman in the head, inflicting fatal injuries, according to prosecutors.

   During the Aug. 21 and Oct. 19 attacks, the defendant allegedly pushed open an unlocked balcony door to access a then-63-year-old woman's apartment. 

   During a July 2008 preliminary hearing, the victim, identified in court documents only as Jane Doe, testified she had fallen asleep in her recliner while watching television and awoke to find Daniels in her kitchen.

   She said she tried to flee out the front door, but that Daniels -- whom she positively identified -- punched her in the head, knocking her down and pummeling her until gaining her full compliance. According to the victim, the defendant forced her to orally copulate him.

   The victim said she suffered a fractured cheek bone, broken eye socket, several chipped teeth and a badly dislocated shoulder. She was still in recovery when, almost exactly two months later, Daniels allegedly returned, breaking into her apartment the same way he had before.

   ``And I said, `No, not again. Please no, not again,''' the woman testified.

    She alleged that Daniels replied, ``You know the rules,'' and forced her into the bedroom and raped her, leaving soon afterward.

   She moved out of the apartment weeks later.

   After Edwin's death, Hemet police officers began staking out the complex on a nightly basis. Around 2 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2007, they caught the 6-foot-3, 185-pound defendant allegedly attempting to break into another senior's unit.