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Defendant’s Illness Leads to Trial Delay for Fatal Shooting in Lompoc 3 Years Ago

Clay Martin Burt Murray
Clay Martin Burt Murray

Opening statements must wait at least one more day for the Santa Barbara County Superior Court trial of a Lompoc man accused of fatally shooting a Santa Maria woman in October 2014.

Due to defendant Clay Martin Burt Murray’s illness, Judge Gustavo Lavayen instructed the 12 jurors and four alternates to return to court on Friday.

Murray, 67, is charged with murder for the October 2014 shooting of Rebecca Maxine Yap, 37, of Santa Maria, at a residence on the 300 block of North Daisy Street in Lompoc.

Officers were called to the home after receiving reports of shots fired. When they arrived, they contacted Murray, who was detained while officers checked the residence.

Police found the victim, with a gunshot wound to her abdomen, in the backyard. 

Before she died, Yap identified the shooter as Murray, police said. 

In anticipation of opening statements Thursday morning, Murray had been in a wheelchair in the courtroom, but left before jurors arrived due to his illness.

The judge apologized to jurors for the delay as he told them to return Friday.

“Hopefully at that time we’re going to begin with opening statements and then proceed to evidence,” Lavayen said. 

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley is leading the proscution team.

Murray is represented by attorneys Michael Carty and Adrian Galvan. 

The judge also issued an order for jail medical staff to assess Murray and provide an update regarding his condition if he cannot be transported from the Santa Barbara County Jail to the Santa Maria Court Complex for Friday's trial.

Murray’s is one of two homicide trials starting in North County this month.

Opening statements are planned for Tuesday in the trial for a pair of former Allan Hancock College basketball players charged in connection with a fatal shooting in December 2014 in Santa Maria.

With the jurors and alternates seated last week, the trial of Lavell White and Ali Mohammed will start Tuesday with opening statements before Judge James Voysey.

The trial will be held in a Lompoc courtroom instead of Santa Maria due to a crowded court calendar, a move officials are hoping will help ease the backlog. 

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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