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Plea Deal Avoids 3rd Trial for Lompoc Man in June 2015 Gang-Related Slaying

Edward ‘EdRed’ Carter Click to view larger
Edward ‘EdRed’ Carter in court in 2016. The Lompoc man took a plea deal on Monday in a gang-related slaying. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A Lompoc man took a plea deal on Monday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, avoiding a third trial for the murder of a rival gang member nearly four years ago.

Edward "EdRed" Carter, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and a gang enhancement in exchange for a sentence of 13 years, Deputy District Attorney Lynmarc Jenkins said. 

The change in plea means Carter, who was represented by Deputy Public Defender Brian Carroll, will avoid a third jury trial — set to start March 5 — in Judge James Voysey’s courtroom.

Carter was one of four people arrested following the fatal stabbing of a rival gang member, 29-year-old Jesse Lara, in June 2015.

The fight between the Six Deuce Brims and VLPs occurred on the 400 block of North M Street.

While the prosecuting attorney called the case gang warfare, the defendants’ attorneys contended the fatal stabbing was self defense.

In their first trial in 2016, Carter and co-defendant Dequan Matthews were acquitted of first-degree murder, but jurors remained divided on lesser charges, leading the judge to declare a mistrial.

In the second trial, which started in October 2017 and ended in another split verdict in early 2018, Matthews was found guilty of second-degree murder along with a special allegation a knife was used in the crime. 

However, the jury of seven men and five women remained divided on Carter, leading the judge to declare a mistrial after polling jurors to confirm they were hopelessly deadlocked.

Carter drove the vehicle to the crime scene, but ran away from the fight that utlimately ended with Lara’s death, according to court testimony.

With jurors again divided on Carter’s role, for months attorneys on both sides have held discussions about a possible plea deal to avoid a third trial. 

In March 2018, Matthews was sentenced to 16 years to life in state prison when Voysey said that he wished he had the power to eliminate criminal street gangs.

Before the case reached trial, a third adult in the car took a plea deal and was a sentenced to seven years in state prison, while a then-14-year-old testified on behalf of the prosecution in both trials.

Carter is set to return to Voysey's courtroom for sentencing on April 8.

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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