Thursday, August 16 , 2018, 1:40 pm | Fair 77º


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Other Homicide Trials May Lead To Delay For Men Charged With Marilyn Pharis’ Death

The two men accused of killing a Santa Maria woman two years ago had a trial date set for early 2018, but that date remains uncertain due to scheduling conflicts involving defense attorneys’ other cases.

Victor Aureliano Ramirez Martinez and Jose Villagomez have been charged in connection with the violent attack on Marilyn Pharis, 64, in her residence on the 900 block of North Dejoy Street in July 2015. She died eight days later at the hospital. 

They will be tried for first-degree murder, plus numerous special circumstances.

The men made a brief appearance before Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge John McGregor on Thursday morning.

Martinez will face an additional special circumstance for torture and a special allegation for use of a deadly weapon, identified as a hammer.

As McGregor began to discuss setting a date to hear motions ahead of the previously scheduled trial start of Feb. 5, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen suggested waiting.

“Your honor, both (defense) counsel have two other homicide trials that may have time issues that may cause us a problem in our trial,”  Bramsen said. 

With the uncertain schedule involving defense attorneys Michael Scott’s and Lori Pedego’s other cases, the judge agreed to delay talks about dates for the Martinez and Villagomez trial, setting Oct. 19 for that case to return to court.

“I think that’s a sensible proposal,”  McGregor said. 

The other two homicide cases Scott and Pedego are involved with have a court date Monday in Judge James Voysey’s courtroom to potentially resolve the scheduling conflict.

They are representing Lavell White and Ali Mohammed, two former Allan Hancock College basketball players charged with murder in the shooting death of Terence Richardson in December 2014. White and Mohammed have not waived time for a trial beyond December.

Additionally, Scott and Pedego represent two of three defendants set for trial on charges stemming from the killing of Javier Limon, whose body was found dumped on West Main Street west of Guadalupe in August 2014.

Both of those trials are set to be heard by Voysey, who has yet another homicide trial set to start in mid-October and last eight weeks. 

That case involves the second trial for pair of Lompoc charged in connected with a fatal gang-related stabbing of Jesse “Dizzy” Lara, 29, in June 2015.

Jurors in their first trial found the men not guilty of first-degree murder but were unable to reach a verdict regarding lesser charges, leading to a mistrial.

Attempts to reach a plea deal before a second trial reportedly have not be successful.

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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