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Local News

Lompoc Man Pleads No Contest As Trial Set For Co-Defendants In Fatal Stabbing

One of four people arrested in connection with a fatal stabbing nearly a year ago in Lompoc pleaded no contest to lesser charge Monday morning in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Damian Simpson, now 21, entered his plea before Judge James Voysey in a Santa Maria courtroom.

Originally charged with murder, Simpson instead pleaded no contest to a new count of assault with a deadly weapon with a gang enhancement. The original murder charge was dismissed.

Simpson, who was represented by defense attorney Michael Scott, was one of four men arrested following the fatal stabbing of Jesse Lara, 29, who was stabbed multiple times the night of June 6, 2015, near North M Street and Maple Avenue, police said. Lara died later at a local hospital.

Under the agreement, Simpson will be sentenced to seven years in state prison when he returns to court July 11.

A new trial date of July 6 was set for the two remaining defendants in the case, Edward Dion Carter Jr. and Dequan Matthews, Deputy District Attorney Lynmarc Jenkins said.

Both men were charged with murder and a gang enhancement.

Hours after the stabbing, officers arrested Carter, 21. 

A couple of days later, police Chief Patrick Walsh announced the arrest of two other suspects: Matthews, 18, and a male juvenile whose name wasn’t released due to his age.

Simpson, the fourth and final suspect, was arrested in late July of last year.

The juvenile reportedly received a plea deal. 

The killing reportedly involved rival gangs and prompted city and faith leaders to join forces and gather at City Hall to call for calm.

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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