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Trial Date Set For Men Charged With Death of Marilyn Pharis

A trial date has been set for two men charged in connection with the beating, sexual assault and death of Marilyn Pharis in 2015. 

After conferring with attorneys, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge John McGregor scheduled Aug. 14 for the start of trial against Victor Ramirez Marinez, 30, and Jose Villagomez, 21.

The men are accused of entering a home on the 900 block of North Dejoy Street on July 24, 2015, and attacking the 64-year-old woman, who died eight days later. 

The pair will be tried for first-degree murder, plus numerous special allegations and circumstances, including robbery, burglary, and rape by foreign object.

Martinez will face an additional special circumstance for torture and a special allegation for use of a deadly weapon, identified as a hammer.

Through their attorneys at Thursday’s arraignment hearing, the defendants entered not guilty pleas and denied special allegations and circumstances.

Martinez is represented by attorney Lori Pedego while Villagomez’s attorney is Michael Scott.

Attorneys estimate the trial will last between four and six weeks. 

“Then we’ll put a five-week estimate and see where we are,” McGregor said.

The judge also set Aug. 3 as the trial confirmation date, and May 18 to discuss trial readiness and handle pretrial motions.

Additionally, Feb. 27 was scheduled for hearing a defense motion seeking to dismiss some allegations against the men. 

Both were held to answer to the charges following a preliminary hearing last month.

The men remain in custody of Santa Barbara County Jail after the judge again declined to set bail.

The District Attorney's Office announced last month the men would not face the death penalty and instead face life without the possibility of parole if found guilty.

The case has drawn national attention due to Martinez's status as an undocumented immigrant with prior arrests

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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