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Local News

Santa Barbara Detective Continues Expert Testimony in Gang Injunction Trial

Santa Barbara police Detective Gary Siegel continued his testimony Tuesday about local gangs in the trial for the city's proposed gang injunction.

Siegel is an expert witness for the plaintiffs, including the City Attorney's and District Attorney’s offices, and has spent days cataloging details about the Eastside and Westside gangs in court.

Assistant District Attorney Hilary Dozer has handled the questioning so far and asked Siegel about gang tattoos, graffiti, clothing and specific patterns of crime.

The proposed injunction would limit named gang members from associating with each other in certain areas, city parks and near schools. They would also be restricted in what they could wear or do in these neighborhoods, which is where many of them live.

Siegel explained pictures of graffiti on the Pennywise Market, an Eastside gang hangout on East Montecito Street, and said gang-specific tagging is often a way to claim territory and challenge rival gangs in Santa Barbara.

The city has a graffiti abatement program — two people in a truck with paint supplies — and now has a graffiti tracker camera that documents the location, date and picture of the graffiti so police can create a database, Siegel said.

He talked briefly about professional sports clothing associated with local gang members. Teams seem to be chosen for their initials, like the Duke University cap that’s blue with a white D on the front for the “Destroyers” clique of the Westside gang, Siegel said.

During his testimony, Siegel has talked about many specific assaults as examples of violence between rival gang members, members of the same gang, and gang members against members of the community. Many of the incidents took place in 2007, the peak of gang violence according to police department data.

A 2007 attempted murder case took two years of investigating before suspects were arrested, with the help of an FBI dive team to recover weapons ditched in the Andree Clark Bird Refuge.

On Sept. 20, 2007, four Eastside gang members confronted a 17-year-old boy associated with the Westside who was walking alone after playing basketball with friends. They stabbed him about 30 times, Siegel said, and information from two of the suspects led to the weapons getting recovered.

Shortly after the attempted murder, the suspects dug a hole in another Eastside gang member’s house and disposed of the knives with some wet cement. When word got out that the person was moving, they dug up the block and threw it into the bird refuge, Siegel testified. A FBI diver discovered the concrete block in January 2010, and four knives were found inside.

Ruben Mize, who was 15 at the time of the stabbing, was already in custody for the murder of Lorenzo Carachure when police made arrests. He and three other men were arrested and two, Mize and Jacob Medina, were convicted. Mize is serving decades in prison for the attempted murder of the 17-year-old and the murder of Carachure. He was one of the original 30 named defendants in the gang injunction but was dropped from the list with 18 others, many whom are also serving long sentences.

Plaintiffs in the gang injunction trial are trying to prove that local gangs are a public nuisance and the injunction is needed to stop it.

In his opening remarks, Tom Shapiro of the City Attorney’s Office said police can’t stop this behavior without an injunction. A team of defense attorneys is arguing against the injunction and representing individual clients in this case. They will call their own witnesses and experts, which includes a local professor and residents who live in the proposed safety zones.

The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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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