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Trial Delayed Again for Suspect in '94 Slayings

Defense attorneys ask for more time in the case of Howard Bloomgarden, who is accused of ordering the abductions and killings of Redondo Beach residents Peter Kovach and Ted Gould.

LOS ANGELES—An attorney for a Florida man charged with orchestrating the 1994 killings of two Redondo Beach men said Friday that the defense is not ready for a trial.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Curtis Rappe granted the defense request's to delay the setting of a trial date for Howard Bloomgarden, who is accused of ordering four New York men to abduct and kill Peter Kovach, 26, and Ted Gould, 29.

Although he allowed the continuance, Rappe expressed his frustration with the delay.

"You guys can't sit there and drag your feet," he said to Jimmie Johnson, one of Bloomgarden's attorneys. "We want this case to go trial as soon as possible."   

Bloomgarden, who is already serving a 33-year federal prison term on other convictions unrelated to the Redondo case, was present at Friday's hearing.

Johnson told the judge that he and his co-counselor, James Banks, haven't had enough time to go over the hundreds of files and witnesses they were handed  by Marcia Morrissey, Bloomgarden's previous attorney who left the case eight months ago.

"It's just a tremendous amount of material, and it's a death [penalty] case," Johnson told Patch. "We have to be thorough, we have to be diligent."

On Oct. 26, 1994, Kovach and Gould were kidnapped at a Torrance cell phone store where they worked and taken to a Lawndale motel by Kenneth Friedman and three other men. Kovach and Gould were found dead several days later in a San Diego parking lot.  

Bloomgarden and Kovach were former college roommates, and the two men allegedly operated a nationwide drug trafficking business together. Kovach reportedly left the illegal operation and got involved in the cell phone store.

In order to avoid a life prison term for a federal racketeering conviction in an unrelated case, Bloomgarden admitted his involvement in the abductions and killings of Kovach and Gould in a New York court in 1996.

In that admission, Bloomgarden said he spoke to Friedman on the phone on the night of Oct. 26 and "approved the murders." Friedman has been sentenced to death for his role in the abductions and killings.

In 2006, Morrissey argued that Bloomgarden had been given "ineffective assistance" by his New York attorneys and that he was not aware that his 1996 admission could be used to bring death penalty charges against him in California.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office was not part of that 1996 plea agreement, and it has been pursuing a case against Bloomgarden separately.

Rappe agreed with Morrissey's argument and ordered the Los Angeles prosecutors not to use Bloomgarden's under-oath confession.

Los Angeles prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Bloomgarden.

When asked Friday how Bloomgarden feels about the delay, Johnson said, "He's patient. He's reasonable and he understands what's involved. He's not pressing us."

The defense team plans to file a motion June 18 to ask for another postponement in the setting of a trial date.

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