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Local News

Arraignment Delayed for Defendant in Easter Morning Slaying in Orcutt

An arraignment hearing for a man accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend on Easter morning was delayed for two weeks in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Friday.

Jorge Fernandez Tovar, 26, of Lompoc made a brief appearance before Judge James Iwasko in a Santa Maria courtroom. 

Tovar was arrested in connection with the April 16 fatal shooting of Elyse Erwin, 28, who was found dead in a parking lot on Goodwin Road.

He has been charged with felony murder plus a special circumstance for lying in wait and allegations including discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury and use of a firearm.

The further arraignment hearing now is planned for May 26.

Deputy District Attorney Fabiana Fede, who recently joined the Santa Barbara County prosecution team after a stint for the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, told the judge that the victim’s family wanted the arraignment to occur Friday or as soon as possible. 

While noting the family’s concerns, Iwasko also weighed the defendant’s rights, and said he wanted to ensure mistakes were not made since Tovar had a substitute defense attorney. The judge also said the delay would last only two weeks.

A miscommunication involving whether Tovar had hired a private attorney or still sought to be represented by the Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office ultimately led to the latest delay. 

As the morning dragged on with the victim’s family in the audience, Iwasko suggested a Public Defender’s Office colleague would be “more than capable” of handling the hearing at least for Friday and a colleague stood in for Deputy Public Defender Mark Owens.

Meanwhile, a campaign to raise money in memory of Erwin to furnish at least one unit at the Domestic Violence Solutions emergency shelter topped the initial $2,500 goal.

The Trilogy Service Club launched the effort, with plans to furnish a second unit in honor of Erwin’s daughter if enough funds are raised.

Erwin had worked at the Monarch Club for nearly three years as catering coordinator. She previously was employed by the Santa Maria Country Club. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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