The Superior Court has decided to hold the Anthony Ibarra murder case hearings in the Santa Maria Juvenile Court facility, since there hasn’t been enough space for the 11 defendants, attorneys and prosecutors at prior hearings.
The defendants are still in custody of the County Jail after being indicted for the gang-related torture and murder of Ibarra, 28, on March 17.
The prosecutors and defense attorneys haven’t had enough room to all sit down or take notes, so defense attorneys asked the court to find a bigger venue.
This courtroom, near Juvenile Hall on California Boulevard, is much larger than other courts in Santa Maria and can accommodate everyone, according to court executive officer Darrel Parker.
Juvenile Court has holding cells and a secure parking lot attached, and needs only a minimal investment in the public address system to make it ready for the Ibarra case proceedings.
Court officials are so used to the Juvenile Court facility being closed to the public – for confidential proceedings – that they hadn’t considered it before, Parker said.
“I don’t know why it didn’t occur to us to begin with,” he said.
Details came out in the 932-page transcript of the Grand Jury proceedings. Ibarra was beaten and stabbed to death, allegedly by members of a Santa Maria gang, and his body was found in a U-Haul parked on a residential street in Orcutt. Prosecutors say Ibarra was killed because he failed to pay “drug taxes” to the gang.
Ibarra ultimately bled to death after being stabbed in the neck multiple times with what was almost certainly a Phillips-head screwdriver, the medical examiner testified.
Prosecutors have previously said they will not to seek the death penalty in the case, but several defendants face life in prison without parole if convicted.