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Trial set after pals end silence in slaying

LOS ANGELES -- A former high school football star was ordered to stand trial on charges of stabbing and dismembering a teenage boy in 1998 and then scaring the victim's friends into keeping quiet.

Police said Robert Marquez, 26, confessed to the killing after a classmate of the victim broke more than six years of silence about the case. The classmate said he spoke up because Marquez was scheduled for release from prison in December on an unrelated conviction.

Other classmates followed suit last month, accusing Marquez of killing 16-year-old Bryan Thorne after a school field trip and disposing of the body in a shopping center trash bin. Thorne's body was never found.

Police have not disclosed any suspected motive.

Police said Marquez, a former Walnut High School athlete, confessed during an interview at the prison where he was serving time for an unrelated extortion case, living in a cell he decorated with pictures of dismembered sheep and chickens. He is now being held without bail at Los Angeles Men's Central Jail. Arraignment is Nov. 24.

Marquez wept as Thorne's onetime classmates at Brea Canyon High School testified Wednesday.

"Robert told me if I told anyone, he'd kill me," Christopher Horn told the court. "He said he's seen my mom and knows where I live."

Horn and Cynthia Perez, Marquez's former girlfriend, testified that students had just returned from the field trip when Marquez invited them to his home.

Police said Marquez asked Thorne and another friend if they wanted to smoke marijuana in the backyard. Without warning, Marquez slipped on gloves and stabbed Thorne, police said.

Marquez told Thorne's friends that if anyone asked, they were to say they had dropped Thorne off near his home, police said. Horn said Marquez bragged about killing Thorne and "said it was his 25th time doing it."

Deborah Palomino, Thorne's mother, testified she last spoke to him on the phone after the field trip and he said he was OK. She said she kept hoping her son would return, but "there was nothing I could do. The police dropped it. I was completely in the dark."

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