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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 9:44 am | Fair 56º


New Trial Date Set For Man Charged With Fatal Shooting In Old Town Orcutt

After Jonathan Highley unsuccessfully attempted to fire his court-appointed attorney Wednesday, a new trial date was set for the man charged with shooting a father of two behind an Old Town Orcutt bar last year.

Highley, 36, of Orcutt appeared before Judge Patricia Kelly on Wednesday.

A short time before and in a different courtroom, Highley had a Marsden hearing — held in private before Judge John McGregor — seeking to fire his defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Mark Owens. 

Those hearings are restricted to the judge, defendant, defense attorney and limited court staff, with even prosecutors are banned to protect private information.

Those efforts failed, apparently, as Owens and Highley showed up for the originally planned hearing, where attorneys agreed to set dates for the trial once scheduled for early June.

Highley is charged in connection with the fatal shooting of Anthony “Tony” San Juan, 43, of Santa Maria, in a parking lot in Old Town Orcutt on March 4, 2017.

The shooting came after Highley had been involved in a number of altercations inside and outside Elmer’s Bar involving people other than San Juan, according to testimony from the preliminary hearing. 

Jonathan Highley
Jonathan Highley

Highley faces trial for charges of murder and assault with a firearm, along with special allegations including use of a firearm and great bodily injury

On Wednesday, the judge and attorneys tossed around several potential dates before agreeing to set the trial to start Sept. 10, with a trial confirmation hearing on Sept. 5. 

The jury trial is expected to last six weeks, the attorneys told the judge. 

Both sides agreed to return to court Aug. 15 for another pre-trial hearing. 

Highley and his wife Mayra Perez were arrested after the fatal shooting and Perez was charged with being an accessory to the crime.

She pleaded no contest a year ago and was sentenced to a year in county jail.

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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