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Murder trial in 2003 Valley Center compound death continued to Sept. 29

Published on -6/11/2014, 1:54 PM

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By Tim Potter

The Wichita Eagle

The trial of a man charged with murdering a woman at a Sedgwick County compound in 2003 has been continued to Sept. 29.

The trial of Daniel Perez had been scheduled for next week.

At Perez's June 2012 preliminary hearing, a prosecutor argued that Patricia Hughes couldn't have drowned herself in a pool. A defense attorney suggested that maybe the death was a suicide. A judge ruled there was enough evidence to send Perez to trial on a charge of first-degree premeditated murder in Hughes' death. She was a 26-year-old mother.

The judge also found that prosecutors showed enough evidence to try Perez on more than 30 other charges, including rape, sodomy, sexual exploitation of a child, aggravated assault, criminal threat and directing that false information be put on life insurance and car credit applications.

Perez, 54, remains in jail on a $2.1 million bond.

Perez had used the name Lou Castro and had lived at a 20-acre compound on North Oliver in Valley Center. He had become a fugitive after being convicted of child sex crimes in Texas around 1997.

According to witnesses, he worked no job and led a communal "family" who traveled from state to state and lived off large life insurance payouts from "family" members' deaths. After Hughes died in 2003, in what was originally thought to be an accidental drowning, her life insurance payout was $2?million.

(c)2014 The Wichita Eagle

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