Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 11:05 am | Overcast 67º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Police Detective’s Testimony in Ibarra Murder Trial Focuses on Gang Culture

The Santa Maria court case with six defendants enters its seventh week

Ramon Maldonado smiles as his attorney prepares to question a gang detective in court Monday. Maldonado is one of the six defendants on trial for the gang-related torture and slaying of Anthony Ibarra in 2013.
Ramon Maldonado smiles as his attorney prepares to question a gang detective in court Monday. Maldonado is one of the six defendants on trial for the gang-related torture and slaying of Anthony Ibarra in 2013. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A crime such as the alleged torture-slaying of a drug dealer would boost the reputations of gang members involved, a police detective said Monday in the seventh week of testimony for the six men charged with the death of Anthony Ibarra in 2013.

Under questioning by Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen, Detective Michael Parker from the Santa Maria Police Department identified the six men now on trial as being either gang members or associates of gang members.

The men were charged in connection with the March 17, 2013, torture-slaying of the 28-year-old in a house on West Donovan Road in Santa Maria. Ibarra’s body was found a few days later in a U-Haul rental truck parked on an Orcutt street. 

“It enhances that gang’s reputation for violence … ,” said Parker, who was testifying as a gang expert.

The prosecution’s presentation of evidence in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court trial reportedly is winding down, with the defense then expected to begin calling their witnesses in the trial. Among those expected to be called on behalf of the defense is their own gang expert.

In addition to enhancing the reputation of the gang and its individual members, Parker said a violent crime also increases a community’s fear about gangs and their reputation for violence.

“Nobody’s afraid of the Girl Scouts because the Girl Scouts don’t have a reputation for violence,” Parker said. 

Earlier, the police detective pointed out the significance of the various gang-identifying tattoos Maldonado sports as large photos were displayed for the jury’s view.

Parker also called Maldonado a top leader in the gang.

“I would identify him as a shot-caller based on his leadership position in the gang,” Parker said.

Ibarra trial
Ramon Maldonado, Anthony Solis and David Maldonado (Ramon's father) are three of the six defendants. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Other defendants allegedly claiming gang membership include Santos Sauceda, 35, and Reyes Gonzales, 43, Parker said, adding he used jail classification reports and other interactions with police to reach the conclusion.

In addition to explaining the meanings of the defendants’ tattoos, the police detective identified the photos showing some defendants giving gang signs.

“It’s just another way of showing their allegiance and their loyalty and their mindset,” Parker said.

Parker described the other defendants, Ramon Maldonado’s dad, David Maldonado, 57, Anthony Solis, 30, and Jason Castillo, 31, as gang associates. 

Santa Barbara County has 2,000 members of gangs affiliated with the Sureños, Parker said, adding the number of associates isn’t available since they are not as well tracked.

Under cross-examination from defense attorney Michael Scott, who represents Ramon Maldonado, the detective said it’s not illegal to belong to be a gang.

Scott asked if Parker knew of any document that spelled out gang rules.

“There’s no gang constitution in written format that I’m aware of,” Parker said. 

The attorney also questioned Parker about gang members’s reactions to being disrespected.

“In the gang world it’s expected you have some sort of violent response in order to maintain your reputation,” Parker said.

Later, defense attorney Addison Steele, who represents Solis, asked if his client had ever been linked to gangs before the current case.

Parker noted the large number of gang members compared to a handful of detectives in gang suppression unit.

“It is not uncommon for people to fly under the radar at all,” Parker said. 

Steele also asked if the police officer knew whether Solis was familiar with any of the gang members in pictures Parker used in his gang presentation. Parker said he did not know if Solis knew anyone in the pictures.

Defense attorneys’ cross examination of Parker is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning in Santa Maria Juvenile Court, where the trial is being held due to the large number of participants.

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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >