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Suspects in Alleged Santa Barbara Gang Beating Appear in Court

Michael Cardenas and Augustine Cruz will be arraigned April 29 in 2009 Lower Eastside assault

Two Santa Barbara men who were indicted last month on charges of beating one man unconscious and robbing and beating another man appeared in court Friday.

Augustine Cruz
Augustine Cruz

Michael Cardenas and Augustine Cruz appeared before Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge George Eskin wearing red and blue pre-trial jumpsuits. The men face 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.

The men are accused of beating Dustin Kor, who suffered a serious brain injury after being attacked on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside on the night of Nov. 20, 2009. Kor had stepped outside from a friend’s birthday party near the intersection of Soledad and Carpinteria streets when he was set upon. He was unconscious for about a week, and no local media picked up on the incident.

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, all of Santa Barbara.

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.

Noozhawk broke the story earlier this week that the indictment had been issued.

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, Santa Barbara 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. In the earlier incident, 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.

Michael Cardenas
Michael Cardenas

Cardenas was already in custody when the indictment was issued, and Cruz was arrested after he stopped by Superior Court to hear the verdict read on four suspects charged with the 2007 murder of Lorenzo Carachure, a gang-related attack on the Westside. Detectives in the courtroom recognized Cruz and arrested him.

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

Kor’s case prompts the question: Are victims of similar cases still out there? Prosecutor Hans Almgren said he couldn’t speculate on that. He did tell Noozhawk that a maximum sentence for the crimes would be 20 years.

Their arraignment was continued until April 29.

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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