Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 8:43 pm | Fair 48º


Local News


Defendants In Marilyn Pharis’s Death Make Brief Court Appearance

The two men charged in connection with last summer’s brutal attack and death of Marilyn Pharis, 64, of Santa Maria were ordered to return to court Jan. 28.

Wearing civilian clothes, Victor Martinez and Jose Villagomez appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Thursday before Judge John McGregor. 

Both defendants remain in custody at the Santa Barbara County Jail.

The two are charged with first-degree murder with special circumstances of burglary, mayhem and rape during a felony murder.

Martinez has an additional special circumstance of torture, plus an allegation of use of a deadly weapon. He is also charged with a count of first-degree burglary

Authorities say the men broke into Pharis's home on the 900 block of North Dejoy Street in July. They are accused of sexually assaulting the U.S. Air Force veteran, strangling her, and then beating her on the face and head with a hammer. 

She died at a local hospital more than a week after the attack, police said. 

When two defendants return to court in two months, the judge is expected to set a date for the preliminary hearing to decide whether enough evidence exists to proceed with a trial.

Martinez is represented by Deputy Public Defenders Lori Pedego and Addison Steele, while Michael Scott is Villagomez’s defense attorney. 

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen said a decision on whether to seek the death penalty will be made after the preliminary hearing. 

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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