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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.

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