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Juror Replaced, Deliberations Start Over in Santa Maria Murder Torture-Murder Trial

Replacing a juror for the panel deliberating the fate of six men charged with a gang-related torture-murder in Santa Maria means deliberations had to start over Monday.

A juror on Friday reportedly told Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rick Brown about a family emergency that required traveling out of state, and the member was replaced Monday morning with one of the five alternates selected at random, according to attorneys involved in the case.

The switch required starting deliberations from scratch to give the new member a chance to fully participate in the discussions.

The case involving the March 2013 torture and murder of Anthony Ibarra, 28, of Santa Maria landed in the jurors' hands March 24 and they deliberated Thursday and part of Friday since Wednesday was a pre-planned court holiday.

The assault and killing in a house at 1142 W. Donovan Road occurred because Ibarra reportedly owed debts to the gang, prosecutors said.

Defendants Ramon Maldonado, David Maldonado, Anthony Solis, Jason Castillo, Santos Sauceda and Reyes Gonzales each face a murder charge plus multiple special allegations. Ramon Maldonado also is charged with two counts of witness intimidation.

The jury won't meet Tuesday since March 31 is a court holiday to recognize Cesar Chavez's birthday. State offices, such as courts and the Department of Motor Vehicles, observe the holiday by being closed.

Deliberations reportedly are scheduled to continue Wednesday. 

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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