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Man Accused Of Shooting Ex-Girlfriend in Orcutt Gets Private Attorney

The man charged with fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend, who was found dead Easter morning in Orcutt, has hired a private defense attorney.

Jorge Fernandez Tovar, 26, of Lompoc appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Wednesday morning alongside his new attorney Jeremy Lessem, from Lessem, Newstart & Toonson which has offices in Sherman Oaks and Ventura.

The defendant, who also is referred to as Jorge Tovar Fernandez, was arrested in connection with the April 16 fatal shooting of Elyse Erwin, 28, who was found dead in a parking lot on Goodwin Road on Easter morning.

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

Tovar previously was represented by Mark Owens from the Santa Barbara County Public Defender's Office as recently as a court appearance Friday when the arraignment hearing was continued to Wednesday. 

Judge Gustavo Lavayen, hearing the case for the first time Wednesday after other judges handled previous appearances in a different courtroom, asked if Tovar agreed to the attorney switch, with the defendant nodding his consent. 

Since Lessem was new to the case, the judge agreed to continue the arraignment hearing until June 21.

Lessem, who also represents Death Row Records co-founder Marion "Suge" Knight in his Los Angeles criminal case said he has yet to review discovery that previously had been provided to the public defender about the case against Tovar.

Deputy District Attorney Fabiana Fede said Erwin’s family wanted the arraignment to occur Wednesday, something she also stated on their behalf during the May 12 hearing.

Tovar is the father of Erwin’s 6-year-old daughter, Leila. 

Erwin had worked at the Monarch Club as catering coordinator and previous was employed by the Santa Maria Country Club. The Trilogy Service Club, made up of Monarch Dunes residents, has launched a campaign to raise money to furnish a room at the new Santa Maria domestic violence shelter in memory of Erwin.

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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