Friday, November 16 , 2018, 7:02 am | Fair 47º


Teen Defendant to Be Tried Separately in Santa Maria Torture-Slaying Case

A teenager charged in connection with the 2013 torture-killing of a Santa Maria man, along with the now-16-year-old’s dad, grandfather and several other defendants, will have a separate trial.

On Wednesday afternoon, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rick Brown granted defense attorney Michael Carty’s motion to sever Ramon David Maldonado Jr.’s case from the six other defendants’ trial.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen stipulated to the motion, later saying she agreed because of the boy’s age — he was 14 years old at the time of the slaying — his alleged role in the crime and his lack of prior criminal history.

However, Maldonado Jr. will continue to be tried as an adult and his case will remain in adult court, she added. 

The judge ordered both sides to return to court Dec. 4 for the teenager’s case.

With the teenager’s case separated, the trial for the six remaining defendants continues to move toward the planned Nov. 17 start date. The trial is expected to last several months and will be held in Santa Maria Juvenile Court to accommodate the large number of defendants, attorneys, deputies and court staff.

Six men and one teen will stand trial in connection with the slaying of Anthony Ibarra, 28, of Santa Maria in March 2013. His body was found later in a U-Haul truck parked in Orcutt.

Also charged are the teen’s dad, Ramon David Maldonado, and the boy’s grandfather, David Maldonado, along with Reyes Gonzalez, Santos Sauceda, Anthony Soils and Jason Castillo. Four other defendants, Pedro Torres Jr., Carmen Cardenas, Verenisa Aviles and Robert Stan Sosa, accepted pleas in the case.

On Wednesday, the judge also rejected a defense motion seeking access to all jail recordings of phone calls and visits involving defendants and witnesses for the past 17 months.

On behalf of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Senior Deputy County Counsel Kevin Ready Sr. filed a motion to quash the subpoena seeking the recordings, which amount to approximately 30,000 minutes, or 500 hours.

“That is a lot of information. It’s very costly,” Ready said, adding it would take the Sheriff’s Department a couple of weeks to prepare the recordings for defense attorneys. “We’ve argued it’s unnecessary. It’s the purest form of a fishing expedition.”

One recording provided by the prosecution earlier served an example of the type of information expected to obtain through the motion, according to defense attorney Adrian Andrade.

“It is not a fishing expedition,” defense attorney Tom Allen added. “They are throwing it out there as kind of a red herring.”

Defense attorneys noted that this was not the first time they sought the jail recordings. The judge also rejected an earlier bid.

But Brown ruled the defense attorneys failed to show “plausible justification” and didn’t specify the information they sought.

After Brown approved the county motion to quash the subpoena, Allen responded, “Your honor, as to my client, I don’t believe he’s going to be receiving a fair trial.”

The attorneys again raised concerns about the schedule set by Brown.

The judge said he plans to hold the trial from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. five days a week with two short breaks. Defense attorneys have expressed concerns about handling their cases in other courts and keeping their law offices operating.

Defense attorney Michael Scott said the attorneys hoped Brown would agree to take Wednesdays off so they could have a day to handle other cases.

“I’m not going to be popular today,” Brown said, adding a four-day schedule would add a month to the trial.

Other judges have agreed to accommodate the defense attorneys’ schedules while the multidefendant trial is under way, Brown said. 

“They know the burden your under,” Brown said. “It’s going to take a lot of cooperation.”

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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