Saturday, October 1 , 2016, 7:02 am | Fair 54º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube
 
 
 
 

Local News

Criminal Grand Jury Indicts 9 in Gang Torture-Slaying

Prosecutors say they won't seek death penalty in killing of Anthony Ibarra in Santa Maria

A criminal grand jury handed down indictments Wednesday against nine people who prosecutors say are responsible for the brutal torture and slaying of a Santa Maria gang member earlier this year.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced the indictments Thursday, along with her decision not to seek the death penalty against any of those accused in the torture and killing of Anthony Ibarra.

Indicted for murder and conspiracy to commit murder were Ramon Maldonado, Reyes Gonzales Jr., Santos Sauceda, David Maldonado, Robert Sosa, Anthony Solis, Verenisa Aviles, Ramon Maldonado Jr. and Jason Castillo, Dudley said.

Seven of the defendants — Ramon and David Maldonado, Gonzales, Sauceda, Sosa, Solis and Castillo — also were indicted on special allegations of lying in wait, torture, kidnapping, and for committing the crimes in furtherance of a criminal street gang.

Ramon Maldonado faces an additional count for witness intimidation with a gang enhancement.

Two other suspects — Carmen Cardenas and Pedro Torres — were indicted for being accessories after the fact to murder with the gang enhancement.

Ramon Maldonado Jr. is a new suspect in the case, and is a 14-year-old who is being tried as an adult, Dudley said.

He is the son and grandson of two other suspects, and turned himself in to Santa Maria police on Wednesday.

Ramon Maldonado Jr., 14, is being tried as an adult in the case.
Ramon Maldonado Jr., 14, is being tried as an adult in the case.

The investigation into Ibarra’s death began the evening of March 18, when officers were called to the 1100 block of Donovan Road near Blosser Road in Santa Maria after a citizen reported a “possible violent crime” had taken place at a residence there, according to Santa Maria police.

No body was found at that time, and the investigation continued into the following morning, when sheriff’s personnel located a vehicle believed to be involved — a U-Haul truck — on Los Padres Street in Orcutt.

Ibarra’s body was found inside.

The slaying, which is believed to have taken place on Sunday, March 17, was carried out by “very violent street-gang members,” according to Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin.

Ibarra, 28, appeared to have been tortured over a two- to three-hour period, Martin said, and an autopsy showed he died of a stab wound.

Martin did not describe the nature of the torture, although sources have told Noozhawk that Ibarra was attacked with a screwdriver.

Homicide victim Anthony Ibarra
Homicide victim Anthony Ibarra

Authorities have not offered a possible motive for the killing, but have said it was carried out for the benefit of the Sureno criminal street gang.

Sources also have told Noozhawk that investigators are looking at several possible motives relating to gangs, drugs and a lover’s triangle.

Dudley said she chose to go to the grand jury for indictments because a preliminary hearing — held to determine if there is enough evidence to warrant a trial — would have been slow and unwieldy with the large number of defendants in the case.

“With that many attorneys, there could be multiple requests for continuances, and with a case like this, justice delayed would feel like justice denied to this community,” she said.

The 19-member criminal grand jury met in secret earlier this week, hearing the allegations from prosecutors and testimony from witnesses. The defendants and their attorneys did not attend.

If convicted of the charges against them, Ramon and David Maldonado, Gonzales, Sauceda, Sosa, Solis and Castillo face possible sentences of life without the possibility of parole, Dudley said.

Ramon Maldonado and Aviles face possible sentences of 25 years to life if convicted. Cardenas faces a maximum sentence of seven years and Torres faces a maximum term of 10 years.

Dudley said she considered “the underlying facts and factors” of the case in deciding not to seek the death penalty.

“Those factors included the prior criminal history of the defendants, their ages, and their relationship to Anthony Ibarra,” Dudley said.

She declined to elaborate.

Dudley did note that life without parole “is a significant punishment,” adding that the death penalty “is rarely executed, causing the victim’s families to be denied any sense of closure; and, instead be subjected to decades of appeals and mounting frustration.”

The defendants were scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Superior Court in Santa Maria.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >