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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 11:41 pm | Fair 51º


First of 2 Defendants Continues Testifiying in Lompoc Fatal Stabbing Trial

Dequan Matthews and Edward Carter are charged in connection with the death of Jesse Lara in June 2015

Defendant Dequan Matthews testifies during his trial in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon about his role in a fatal stabbing in Lompoc in June 2015. Click to view larger
Defendant Dequan Matthews testifies during his trial in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon about his role in a fatal stabbing in Lompoc in June 2015.            (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A Lompoc man continued testifying Wednesday afternoon in his and a co-defendant’s retrial for the fatal stabbing of a rival gang member in June 2015. 

After a 12-day break for the holidays, Santa Barbara County Superior Court jurors resumed hearing testimony in the second trial for Dequan Matthews, 21, and Edward Carter, 23.

The pair are charged in connection with a fight that killed VLP gang member Jesse “Dizzy” Lara, 29, on June 6, 2015, on the 400 block of North M Street.

The first trial ended with the pair being found not guilty of first-degree murder, but a jury was divided on lesser charges, leading the judge to declare a mistrial.

Matthews is accused of wielding the knife that delivered the fatal wounds after what the prosecution team contends was a gang fight.

However, his attorney has argued the stabbing was in self defense.

The 12 jurors and two remaining alternates heard more from Matthews during questioning from Deputy District Attorney Lynmarc Jenkins, who noted the defendant’s multiple inconsistent statements regarding the incident.

Jenkins contended the defendant was trying to bolster the contention the stabbing was self-defense.

“I lied about certain things to make myself look better I thought,” Matthews testified.

Edward Carter sits in a Santa Barbara County courtroom Wednesday where he and co-defendant Dequan Matthews are being tried again for a fatal Lompoc stabbing in 2015. Click to view larger
Edward Carter sits in a Santa Barbara County courtroom Wednesday where he and co-defendant Dequan Matthews are being tried again for a fatal Lompoc stabbing in 2015.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The night of the slaying, Matthews, Carter and two others were in a distinctive silver Dodge Neon with accents including pink rims, pink windshield wipers and eyelashes above the headlights.

Matthews’ attorney, David Bixby, previously said the defendants would not have planned to commit a crime while driving such a distinctive vehicle.

After something was tossed at the car, the vehicle’s driver, Carter, made a U-turn and a fight ensued, according to court testimony.

Matthews carried a kitchen knife with a 9-inch blade the night of the stabbing, and said he feared another attack after a fight at an earlier party, where someone knocked out two of his teeth. 

“You’ve got this 9-inch blade; what did you think this person, that you did not see any weapons on, was going to do to you when he came at you?” Jenkins asked Matthews on the stand.

“I didn’t think. I just reacted,” a soft-spoken Matthews said.

During the fight, Matthews’ attorney has said, the defendant slipped on fluid in the street, causing him to land awkwardly and leaving him vulnerable.

“I reacted in a way I thought was defending myself,” Matthews testified, under questioning from Jenkins.

He said he was scared, and didn’t know what Lara was going to do next. 

Lara reportedly was stabbed multiple times in the torso. 

Matthews also denied belonging to the Six Deuce Brims, saying “Thumps” is his street nickname, not a gang moniker. 

Jenkins showed the jury a large picture of Matthews, Carter and others displaying gang signs with their hands days before the fatal stabbing, one of several examples the prosecution used to support the contention the defendant was involved in the Six Deuce Brims gang.

Testimony in the case will continue at 9 a.m. Thursday, when Matthews' attorney will resume asking his client questions. 

Carter, who is represented by attorney Brian Carroll, is also expected to take the witness stand at some point during the trial.  

The trial in Judge James Voysey’s courtroom began with jury selection Oct. 20 and likely won’t wrap up until mid-January. 

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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