Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 11:33 pm | Fair 46º


Testimony Continues for 2 Men On Trial Again for Fatal Stabbing In Lompoc

Edward Carter, 23, and Dequan Matthews, 21, are accused of gang-related slaying of Jesse 'Dizzy Lara on June 6, 2016

Defendant Dequan J. Matthews sits in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon next to his attorney, David Bixby. Matthews and Edward D. Carter are on trial in connection with the fatal stabbing of Jesse Lara in June 2015 in Lompoc. Click to view larger
Defendant Dequan J. Matthews sits in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon next to his attorney, David Bixby. Matthews and Edward D. Carter are on trial in connection with the fatal stabbing of Jesse Lara in June 2015 in Lompoc. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

After more than a week-long break, jurors resumed hearing testimony Tuesday afternoon in the second trial for a pair of Lompoc men charged with a gang-related fatal stabbing in 2015.

Lompoc police officers testified about their interactions with the owner of the distinctive vehicle allegedly used in the stabbing before jurors heard recordings of interviews with police hours after the fatal stabbing of Jesse “Dizzy” Lara’s on June 6, 2015.

Edward Carter, 23, and Dequan Matthews, 21, are on trial in Santa Barbara County Superior Court for the attack that left the 29-year-old Lara dead. 

The prosecution team says the stabbing occurred during a fight between rival gangs — the Six Deuce Brims and the VLP — on the 400 block of North M Street.

Defense attorneys contend the men acted in self-defense after being attacked. 

The first trial ended with jurors acquitting Matthews and Carter of first-degree murder, but unable to reach a verdict regarding lesser charges. 

Carter reportedly drove the vehicle leading up to the stabbing while Matthews is accused of wielding the knife. 

Tuesday afternoon, jurors heard the voice of Arnika Cummings on recorded conversations with police hours after the stabbing where she reluctantly says who borrowed the car.

“I don’t know what to do,” jurors heard a woman tell Lompoc police Detective Brian Guerra.

“You guys know the situation like this,” she said. "If I say something, it’s just going to make my life so bad."

On the night of the stabbing, Carter borrowed Cummings’ vehicle — a silver Dodge Neon with pink rims, pink windshield wipers and eyelashes above the headlights. Inside, the vehicle featured cheetah print and a fuzzy pink steering wheel cover.

“Yeah, that was fly, huh?” Cummings said earlier this month as Deputy District Attorney Lynmarc Jenkins described the vehicle.

Cummings said Carter borrowed the vehicle and returned to her apartment later without it.

“He just said some s- -t went down,” she said of Carter.

For many questions Jenkins asked, Cummings responded, “I don’t remember.”

But her testimony differed from what Cummings said to police hours after the stabbing, Sgt. Jorge Magana said.

“In essence she knew that Edward Carter was involved with the gang and became concerned with her car because he ran the risk of getting into trouble,” he said of his conversation with Cummings.

Jurors spent the first several days of the trial hearing testimony about the inner workings of criminal street gangs.

Matthews and Carter were two of four defendants arrested in connection with the stabbing, with one defendant, a juvenile, testifying for the prosecution, and another man pleading no contest and sentenced to seven years in state prison.

Testimony in the trial expected to last through December will resume at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

Jury selection began Oct. 23, with opening statements made Nov. 3, followed by testimony from witnesses.

On Tuesday, the panel lost an alternate juror after a family member was badly injured in a crash. Participation of another juror may be at risk after her private school employer asked the judge to release her.

However, Judge James Voysey said the law does not allow him to release a juror due to employer’s convenience. 

The juror said she has worked after the court day to ensure her students’ needs are met, and confirmed she continues to receive her salary although the school policy said jury service would be limited to a week. 

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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