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Judge Denies Motion Filed by Homicide Defendant Seeking to See Daughter

Jorge Tovar Fernandez Click to view larger
Jorge Tovar Fernandez

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge denied a defense motion seeking to lift a criminal protective order prohibiting Jorge Tovar Fernandez from seeing his young daughter.

Visiting Judge John Fisher made the ruling Wednesday in the case involving the 27-year-old Lompoc man accused of killing his daughter’s mother Easter morning in Orcutt.

The defendant, who also is referred to as Jorge Fernandez Tovar, was arrested following the April 16 shooting of Elyse Erwin, 28.

She was found dead in a parking lot on Goodwin Road.

He has been charged with first-degree murder plus a special circumstance for lying in wait, and allegations including discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury and use of a firearm.

In addition to pleading not guilty, the defendant denied the special allegations.

Fernandez’s private attorney, Jeremy Lessem, filed the motion to quash the protective order banning his client from having contact with his and Erwin’s 6-year-old daughter, Leila.

The motion sought an end to the protective order, claiming the child is “neither a witness or victim in this case, making any criminal protective order issued by the court over-broad and illegal.”

The defense attorney also said the criminal case lacked any accusation the young girl was present when her mom was fatally shot. 

Deputy District Attorney Fabiana Fede argued to keep the protective order in place, noting the defendant had previously made several disparaging comments about Erwin to the young girl

Additionally, a family member reportedly overheard the father tell the young girl to call her mother “puta,” or "whore" in Spanish.

Fede said the girl also witnessed the defendant verbally abuse and stalk her mother. 

“In fact, the deceased/victim sadly forewarned her death at the hands of the defendant to family members and close friends, and previously made many attempts to obtain a restraining order to no avail,” Fede wrote in her motion. 

In 2014 documents filed in connection with a child-custody battle, Erwin claimed the man had once told the girl, “Say goodbye to your mother. This is the last time you’re going to see her” and threatened to take his daughter to Mexico.

The criminal case against Fernandez will return to court Oct. 25 when a preliminary hearing may be scheduled. 

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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