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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 4:09 pm | Fair 55º

 
 
 
 

New Leads Prompt Indictments in Alleged Santa Barbara Gang Beating

Two suspects in 2009 Lower Eastside assault on Dustin Kor are on gang-injunction list

It’s been almost two years since he was brutally attacked with no explanation, but Dustin Kor may finally be getting some answers.

Augustine Cruz
Augustine Cruz

Kor suffered a serious brain injury after being beaten on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside on the night of Nov. 20, 2009, while outside a friend’s birthday party near the intersection of Soledad and Carpinteria streets.

“Everybody who knows me has said, ‘Why would they do that?’” he told Noozhawk last year. “It doesn’t make sense to anyone.”

But after a four-month investigation, which began anew after Kor’s case was reopened last year, two suspects have been indicted by a grand jury, authorities have confirmed for Noozhawk.

Michael Cardenas and Augustine Cruz have been indicted and will appear in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Friday. According to the District Attorney’s Office, the men are facing four felony counts, including second-degree robbery with a special allegation of street terrorism and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.

Both Cardenas and Cruz are included among 30 known gang members named in a citywide gang injunction issued last month.

Cardenas, 24, known as “Psycho Mike,” displayed gang hand signals to Santa Barbara police officers on July 21, 2009, and has been arrested for gang-related crimes. He has 13 misdemeanors on his record since 2005.

Cardenas is also facing charges of murder with gang enhancement and committing a crime to benefit a criminal street gang in last year’s death of George Ied. Late on the night of Oct. 12, 2010, Ied, 37, was walking home from his job at a Milpas Street liquor store when he was intercepted on Punta Gorda Street and savagely beaten. He died in the hospital several days later without ever regaining consciousness. Charged with Cardenas are brothers Ismael and Miguel Parra and Steven Santana.

Cruz, known as “Muneco” and “Felon,” is a registered gang member and has been arrested for gang-related crimes, including gang graffiti, vandalism and petty theft.

Michael Cardenas
Michael Cardenas

A source close to the Kor case said Cardenas, a person of interest in the assault, had been arrested in connection with Ied’s murder a week before Noozhawk published its story on Kor last November. After the Ied beating, police took another look at Kor’s case, as well as a robbery that had occurred about 10 minutes before Kor was attacked a couple of blocks away.  A 21-year-old man was beaten and his backpack was taken, along with a small amount of cash.  The grand jury indictment applies to both cases from that night.  Cardenas was already in custody when the indictment was issued, and Cruz was arrested after he appeared in Santa Barbara Superior Court to hear the verdict read on four suspects charged with 2007 homicide of Lorenzo Carachure.  Detectives in the courtroom recognized Cruz and arrested him.

The site of Kor’s beating, at Soledad and Carpinteria streets, is four blocks from where Ied was attacked. Neither Kor nor Ied had any gang affiliations, police say.

Noozhawk checked in with Kor last week. He said he had testified before a grand jury and then heard later that the jury felt there was enough evidence to proceed with the case.

“I was surprised and excited to hear the case was still open and new information had arisen or had been deduced,” he said.

He says he’s doing well these days.

“The better I feel, the more I understand and realize what life used to involve,” Kor said. “I’m keeping up, but still trying to be that fabled idea of ‘normal’ again, if I ever get there.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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