Sunday, February 18 , 2018, 10:48 pm | Fair 52º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Maria Judge Denies Defense Motion in Case Involving Attack on Marilyn Pharis

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge on Friday denied a defense motion seeking additional informational from the prosecution team about an alleged improper interview involving police and a man charged with killing Marilyn Pharis.

The allegation came at a brief hearing Friday morning before Santa Maria Judge John McGregor, who is presiding over the case against Victor Aureliano Martinez, 30, and Jose Villagomez, 21.

The two men are charged with first-degree murder in the brutal July 24, 2015 attack on 64-year-old Marilyn Pharis in her northwest Santa Maria home.

Pharis, an Air Force veteran and civilian employee at Vandenberg Air Force Base, died of her injuries eight days later.

The case has drawn national attention due to Martinez’s status as an undocumented immigrant with prior arrests.

The judge first considered the defense motion in late August before delaying his ruling for a month.

Defense attorney Lori Pedego filed a motion contending police improperly interviewed her client, and sought information about an alleged “unrecorded, untranscribed, unmemorialized and likely un-Mirandized interrogation.”

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen contended the prosecution team had handed over discovery items.

“The court will find that the people have complied with the informal discovery process and the requested information was provided via the responsive declaration,” Judge John McGregor said. “On that basis, the motion is denied.”

Pedego said her sealed document spelled out why she believed her client had been subjected to an improper interview before being given his Miranda warning rights.

McGregor said that document will remain sealed and unavailable to the prosecution or defense attorney Michael Scott, who represents Villagomez. 

The case is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing set to start Oct. 28.

In addition to murder, Martinez and Villagomez face numerous special circumstances, and Martinez also is charged with burglary.

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.

  • 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 >

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 PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



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 >