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Closing Arguments Delayed for Lompoc Fatal Stabbing Retrial

A legal dispute has led to another delay in the second trial for two Lompoc men charged in connection with a fatal stabbing in 2015.

Santa Maria Superior Court Judge James Voysey sent the 12 jurors and two alternates home early Thursday, delaying closing arguments.

The retrial of Edward Carter, 23, and Dequan Matthews, 21, began in October with jury selection.

The pair are charged with the fatal stabbing of Jesse Lara, 29, of Lompoc in what authorities called gang warfare on the streets of Lompoc. Lara belonged to the the VLPs while the defendants reportedly had ties to Six Deuce Brims.

Matthews is accused of wielding the knife. Carter drove the vehicle that carried the four people into what authorities claim was rival gang territory.

Matthews’s and Carter’s attorneys argued that the fatal stabbing occurred due to self-defense, not a gang fight.

In their first trial in 2016, the men were found not guilty of first-degree murder but the jurors deadlocked on lesser charges, leading to the retrial.

With closing arguments expected Thursday, the judge told jurors that instead the case would resume next Wednesday afternoon.

A number of scheduling issues including a federal holiday Monday contributed to the longer delay.

“I very very much appreciate your efforts and your sacrifices in this case. I can't say enough. Thank you,” Voysey told jurors while adding that he could not be transparent about the reason for the delay.

Defense attorneys Brian Carroll, who represents Carter, and David Bixby, who represents Matthews, along with Deputy District Attorney Lynmarc Jenkins, will return Tuesday to tackle the legal issue outside the jury’s presence.

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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