Saturday, December 16 , 2017, 7:56 am | Haze Smoke 55º


Local News

Lompoc Kidnap-Torture Retrial Continues with Defense Opening Statement, First Witness

The case against Raymond Daniel Macias involving a gang-related kidnapping and torture in Lompoc relies on testimony of felons motivated by lighter sentences and lacks any proof Macias ordered the attack, defense attorney Michael Scott said Tuesday afternoon.

Referring to the prosecution witnesses as a “cast of characters” who are longtime gang members and career criminals, Scott delivered his opening statement in the Santa Maria retrial of Macias for the charge of kidnap for extortion plus special allegations for gang and gun involvement.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen delivered her opening statement to the jury in Judge Patricia Kelly’s courtroom Monday afternoon in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria. 

Opening statements from both sides included insight into gang culture, where members must pay “gang taxes” and disrespect toward the gang is considered a major offense. Testifying against gang members is a top offense where a gang member can be “green-lighted,” or targeted for killing, Bramsen noted Monday.

Earlier this summer, a jury in the first trial deadlocked on the kidnap charge but found Macias guilty of torture and sale of methamphetamine.

The case stems from the Jan. 3, 2013 kidnapping and torture of a drug dealer and user known by the gang moniker of “Sicko” who reportedly owed Macias for “gang taxes.”

“Despite a vast amount of investigation, there is not a single piece of solid evidence where Mr. Macias tells anyone to kidnap Sicko,” Scott said.

Instead, those who testify cooperated with police in exchange for cutting deals in their own self interest, he added.

“They committed the crimes, they did not want to do the time,” Scott said.

He added his client is an admitted member of the Santa Barbara-based Eastside Krazies. The prosecution claims that as a high-ranking Sureno, Macias, also known as "Boxer," collected taxes for the Mexican Mafia.

In June 2013, the Santa Barbara Grand Jury handed down indictments against multiple defendants in this case.

But Scott said another gang member — Luis “Lucky” Almanza, Macias’s co-defendant in his first trial — “broke the code” and committed the assault out of embarrassment that he was knocked to the ground by Sicko. The incident left Sicko with a broken arm and other injuries.

“The evidence will show Mr. Macias was a drug dealer. The evidence will show that was his primary motivation,” Scott said.

Scott said he also will show that Macias gave people second and third chances to pay up, “not senseless violence.”

The defense attorney added that Macias was involved with Santa Barbara’s Palabra, which works to minimize youth-on-youth violence.

After Scott’s opening statement, the prosecution’s first witness to take the stand was a third-generation gang member from Lompoc. 

Outside the jury’s presence, Scott objected to allowing testimony from the former gang member regarding a recent incident in which he claims he was threatened for snitching on the gang. 

Scott contended that the apparent threat was not corroborated and unrelated to his client, while Bramsen said the law doesn’t require a direct threat and said the incident is “highly relevant” to this case.

The judge said the question of whether to allow testimony about the incident would be settled in a to-be-scheduled hearing.

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.

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 >