Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 5:11 pm | Overcast 68º


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.

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.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • 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 >

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 >