Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 7:18 pm | Fair 66º


Local News

Hearing Delayed For 2 Men Charged With Murder for Violent Attack on Santa Maria Woman

A preliminary hearing has been delayed until August for two men charged in connection with the death of an Air Force veteran in a violent home-invasion attack last summer.

Victor Martinez and Jose Villagomez appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Monday morning alongside their defense attorneys, Lori Pedego and Michael Scott.

The men are accused of killing Marilyn Pharis, 64, after breaking into her home on the 900 block of North Dejoy Street on July 24.

Authorities say they sexually assaulted the Air Force veteran, strangled her, and then beat her on the face and head with a hammer. 

Victor Martinez
Victor Martinez

Pharis died at a local hospital eight days after the attack, police said. 

The preliminary hearing, once scheduled for Friday morning before Judge John McGregor, has been set for Aug. 26 and 29. Any motions in the case will be heard Aug. 17, all sides agreed. 

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen estimated the hearing will take more than a day.

The two men 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

Jose Villagomez
Jose Villagomez

The case drew national headlines when it was revealed that Martinez is an undocumented immigrant with prior arrests.

He had been released from the Santa Barbara County Jail five days before the attack since he had not been flagged by federal authorities as someone to detain for possible deportation.

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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