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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 2:28 am | Fair 50º


Preliminary Hearing Delayed Again for Man Charged with Orcutt Homicide

Jorge Tovar Fernandez Click to view larger
Jorge Tovar Fernandez

The preliminary hearing for a Lompoc man charged with killing his ex-girlfriend on Easter morning last year in Orcutt has been delayed again in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Jorge Tovar Fernandez, 28, of Lompoc is accused of the fatal shooting of Elyse Erwin, 28, on the morning of April 16, 2017.

Erwin’s body was found in a residential parking area on Goodwin Road in Orcutt. She had been shot in the head.

The victim and the defendant have a young child together.

The defendant has been charged with first-degree murder plus a special circumstance for lying in wait, and allegations including discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury, and use of a firearm.

September marks 17 months since Erwin’s death, and several previous preliminary hearing dates have been canceled for various reasons.

As he entered court Wednesday, the defendant, who remains in jail custody, again sported a big smile.

Preliminary hearings are held to determine if enough evidence exists for a defendant to stand trial and typically involved a limited defense case. 

On Wednesday, defense attorney Jeremy Lessem asked for another delay, telling the judge an outstanding issue involves a critical piece of discovery needed by attorneys on both sides.

Deputy District Attorney Fabiana Fede is leading the prosecution team.

Instead of starting the preliminary hearing on Oct. 24, the case will return to court that day to confirm whether the hearing will occur as planned the following month. 

Judge Gustavo Lavayen set Nov. 28 and 29 as the dates for the hearing. 

Attorneys estimated the preliminary hearing will last one to two days, down from the previous estimate of three days. 

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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