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Man Gets 25 Years to Life in Prison for Role in Death of Marilyn Pharis

Jose Villagomez served as a lookout during the violent 2015 attack on Santa Maria woman

Murder defendant and his attorney in court. Click to view larger
Jose Villagomez, right, seen here at a court hearing in May, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Thursday, after pleading guilty to first-degree murder charges in the death of Marilyn Pharis of Santa Maria. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk file photo)

A man charged with murder in connection with a brutal attack of an Air Force veteran in her Santa Maria home, ultimately causing her death three years ago, was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison on Thursday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Jose Villagomez, 23, changed his plea to guilty of first-degree murder approximately 10 days after his jury trial began with a May 21 opening statement by his attorney, Michael Scott. 

Villagomez and co-defendant Victor Ramirez Martinez, 32, were taken into custody after the brutal attack July 24, 2015, on Marilyn Pharis, 64, in her home on the 900 block of North Dejoy Street. 

Pharis, who worked a civilian satellite tracker at Vandenberg Air Force Base and was planning a trip to Denmark, died eight days after being hospitalized for the injuries she received in the attack.

Villagomez was accused of serving as the lookout at one point while Martinez brutally attacked Pharis, who had been sleeping when the men broke into her home.

In late June, a jury found Martinez guilty of first-degree murder along with determining several special circumstances were true, including robbery, burglary and sexual penetration with a foreign object. They also determined he used a deadly weapon during the attack.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen and colleague Fabiana Fede.

“Jose Villagomez chose to assist Victor Martinez in breaking into Marilyn's locked house, and Villagomez watched for the police while Martinez brutally beat and sexually assaulted Marilyn Pharis,” Bramsen told Noozhawk.

When detectives informed Villagomez the woman had died, “he shrugged his shoulders and said he was not going to cry for her, because he had his own stuff to cry about,” Bramsen added. 

“Villagomez had every opportunity to help Marilyn or to go get help for her, and instead he enabled her assailant. Marilyn Pharis fought for her life and her chances of survival would have greatly improved if Villagomez had tried to help her,” Bramsen said. 

Martinez, who was represented by Lori Pedego, will be sentenced July 30 in Judge John McGregor’s courtroom, with family members of Pharis expected to attend the 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.

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