Monday, June 18 , 2018, 12:44 pm | Fair 68º


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Preliminary Hearing Set For Teens in Fatal Santa Maria Stabbing

Two days next month were penciled in for a Santa Barbara County Superior Court preliminary hearing for the remaining defendants in the fatal stabbing of a Pioneer Valley High School student a year ago.

Five of the six defendants appeared Wednesday before visiting Judge John Fisher who set a tentative preliminary hearing for late February.

The charges stem from a Jan. 25 confrontation between two groups on the 1600 block of East Donovan Road, near Suey Road.

Marco Arce Ramos Pena, 15, was stabbed and died later at Marian Regional Medical Center.

Six people were charged in connection with the stabbing, with several arrested months afterward.

They were charged with murder and a special allegation that the crime was connected to gang activity.

The preliminary hearing is planned for Feb. 23 and 24, and those who have not accepted a plea deal will be part of that process, Deputy District Attorney Mai Trieu said. 

However, most of defendants were ordered to return Jan. 18 for a review of any possible plea deals, and to address other legal matters regarding the underage defendants in advance of the preliminary hearing 

After two teens earlier took plea deals, four defendants remain — Israel Gaspar Cruz, 19; Carlos Geovani Perez, now 15; Daniel Jaime, now 18; and Pablo Juarez, 16.

Cruz — the only adult at the time of the alleged stabbing — is accused of wielding the knife during the incident. 

Two defendants already have pleaded guilty, with sentencing for Gerardo Gonzalez Flores, now 17, set for Feb. 8.

He pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and admitted the gang enhancement. Under the plea deal, he will be sentenced to eight years in prison.

Another defendant, Andrew Molina, 16, also pleaded earlier, but did not appear in court Wednesday. His sentencing is set for Feb. 22.

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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