The trial for the eight remaining defendants accused in the gang-related torture and slaying of a Santa Maria man has been postponed several months so defense attorneys — and one of the accused now representing himself — can better prepare and sift through thousands of pages of evidence.
Originally scheduled to start in May, the trial for those indicted in the slaying of Anthony Ibarra, 28, on March 17, 2013, has been continued until Nov. 17.
The ruling by Superior Court Judge Rick Brown last week follows several motions from defense attorneys who are still struggling to go through 11,000 pages of material and 60-plus hours of audio and video tapes during discovery.
Defense attorney Tom Allen, who is representing Reyes Gonzalez, said he has barely dented the massive amount of evidence despite having a paralegal and investigator help peruse the material — more of which keeps arriving.
Allen said he filed what’s been the first continuance request in the case, along with defense attorneys Addison Steele (representing Anthony Solis) and David Bixby (representing David Maldonado), all of whom are currently on trial in other criminal cases or scheduled to be soon.
“We’re continuing to get new information,” Allen told Noozhawk. “It would not be fair to try this case without obviously having all the defense attorneys No. 1 available, and No. 2 prepared.”
Along with the continuance, Brown granted defendant Ramon Maldonado’s request to represent himself during trial instead of his attorney, Michael Scott.
Allen said he’s unsure what effect that might also have on timing for the trial, since a bulk of the discovery information is under a protective order and can’t be shared inside Santa Barbara County Jail, where all eight defendants remain.
The defendants are next due back in Santa Barbara Juvenile Court — where proceedings are being held because of the large number of attorneys, etc. — on May 23 so attorneys can provide an update regarding discovery, and so the judge can determine whether an order should be issued to clear the attorneys’ schedules of other trials once the Ibarra trial begins, likely lasting through next February, Allen said.
Maldonado will be back in court sooner on March 27 regarding some motions he wants to file, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen.
“It’s rare that homicide cases get to trial within a couple years,” Allen said. “It isn’t trying to delay to throw things. It’s to make sure, from a defense perspective, that we have done everything we can to represent our clients.”
Details involving the murder of Ibarra were revealed in a 932-page grand jury transcript that was obtained by Noozhawk in partnership with KEYT.
Several defendants face life in prison without parole if convicted.