The Santa Barbara City Attorney has dismissed 19 of the 30 named defendants from the proposed gang injunction, with a trial scheduled for next week.
The proposed gang injunction would impact the named defendants who are alleged members of the Eastside and Westside gangs of Santa Barbara. The civil case was filed by the City Attorney’s Office, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office and the Santa Barbara Police Department.
The Santa Barbara City Council publicly voted to move forward with the injunction case last Tuesday after three defendants had been dropped from the case.
On Friday, the city filed to dismiss 16 more people from the case, leaving 11 to face trial. It won’t impact the core of the case, having a Superior Court judge decide whether local gang members cause enough of a nuisance to warrant an injunction.
“The decision-making was fairly simple; we think they no longer pose a public nuisance threat,” City Attorney Ariel Calonne said.
He doesn’t expect any more dismissals before trial, which most likely will start May 6.
As of Friday, the city filed requests to dismiss the following people: Michael Cardenas, Bryan Carreno, Ruben Mize, Patricia Moreno, Miguel Parra, Omar Ramos, Ivan Romero and Humberto Trujillo, allegedly members of the Eastside gang, and Jonathan Alonzo, Cesar Baradas, Enrique Cortez, Daniel Flores, Ruben Flores, Denise Gonzalez, Edwin Miguel, Miguel Molina, Emmanuel Padron, Roy Sarabia and Raul Torres, who are allegedly members of the Westside gang.
Several of them are serving long prison sentences. Cardenas and Parra were convicted in the murder of Santa Barbara resident George Ied, who was beaten to death as he walked home from his workplace on Milpas Street in October 2010. Both men are serving 15 years to life in prison. Mize is serving a decades-long sentence for the 2007 murder of 17-year-old Lorenzo Carachure.
The 11 defendants are scheduled to go to trial next week, where the plaintiffs will have to convince Superior Court Judge Colleen Sterne that an injunction is needed to deal with gang issues in the city.
Since it’s a civil case, defendants aren’t automatically granted attorneys, but about half of them have found pro bono representation.
The defendants are Francisco Anaya, Edgar Cordova, Augustine Cruz, Pedro Garcia and Raymond Macias, allegedly of the Eastside gang, and Christian Botello, Marical Garcia, Miguel Garcia, Stacy Ibarra, Marcos Ramos and Michael Rodriguez, alleged members of the Westside gang.
Defense attorneys have been working together on the injunction for years preparing for trial. When some of the defendants were dismissed, a few attorneys decided to assist others with clients still named, Tara Haaland-Ford said.
Both of her clients were dismissed, but she will now be working with Juan Huerta and his client Marical Garcia and attorney Steve Dunkle will be helping others as well, Haaland-Ford said Monday.
She’s been trying to get her client Edwin Miguel dismissed for years, but there was no movement on that until a few months ago, she said.
“There was some agreement that there were some named within the injunction that didn’t quite fit the parameters of what they needed to prove, at least from my perspective," Haaland-Ford said. "They were either incarcerated for extended amounts of time or may not have been active gang members."
The dismissed defendants had to sign documents agreeing they would not sue for attorney fees and not sue for being named in the gang injunction.
“What they didn’t want was their name continued to be in the news, and so as soon as it was at the point that it could be dismissed, I think most of them jumped at the opportunity because they want to move on with their lives,” Haaland-Ford said.
If the injunction is granted after trial in Superior Court Judge Colleen Sterne’s courtroom, it would restrict the named defendants from associating with each other in certain areas, wearing gang clothing or tattoos, having firearms or weapons, using drugs or alcohol, doing graffiti, and recruiting or intimidating people in those mapped-out “safety zones.”
The proposed document, filed in March 2011, is what the plaintiffs suggest, but Sterne has control over the language of the injunction if it is granted.