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3 Arrested for Alleged Witness Intimidation in Leal Murder Case

Police say suspects were involved in the assault of a witness helping the investigation of the De la Vina Street slaying.

Three suspects have been arrested in the alleged assault of a witness assisting Santa Barbara police in the Baldemar Leal murder investigation.

Leal, 22, was found stabbed to death in the 400 block of De la Vina Street on Feb. 22. The next day police arrested six suspects, all of whom are allegedly affiliated with a gang. Police did not connect the murder with gang activity, however.

Paloma Elizabeth Rodriguez, 22; Isaac Isidoro Saldana, 20; and Roy Sarabia, 18, were arrested by investigators Feb. 26 for allegedly intimidating a male witness who participated in the homicide investigation. Saldana and Sarabia are also charged with battery and gang enhancement.

According to police Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte, a department spokesman, the witness was assaulted in a restaurant Feb. 26 by two Hispanic men. The witness told police he remembered seeing the men seated in the restaurant with a woman just before the attack. Another witness in the area during the attack provided information that led to the location of the female suspect, who later provided the names of the male suspects, who are affiliated with a gang.

After a search of the suspects’ homes, investigators concluded the attack was in retaliation for the witness’ participation in the homicide investigation.

Citing the potential for future retaliation and intimidation, Duarte said the names of the victim, witness and restaurant involved are being withheld.

Jonathan Alonzo, 20; Liliana Arryaga, 18; Andre Balderaz, 35; Michele Murillo Flores, 30; Imelda Nava Guevara, 30; and David Anthony Martinez, 21, have all been arrested in the Leal case, and are accused of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

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