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Trial Dates Scheduled for 2018 in 2 Santa Maria Valley Homicide Cases

Suspects in a pair of cases involving unrelated homicides from 2014 in the Santa Maria Valley will have to wait until 2018 for their trials.

On Monday, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge James Voysey set tentative dates for the trials, both involving homicides committed in 2014. 

In the first case, two former basketball players at Allan Hancock College, Ali Mohammed and Lavell White, will stand trial starting Jan. 23, with another readiness hearing planned for Nov. 27 and trial confirmation on Jan. 8.

Mohammed, represented by Deputy Public Defender Lori Pedego, and White, represented by defense attorney Michael Scott, are charged in connection with the death of Terence Richardson, 23, of Santa Maria.

Investigators say the killing occurred during a drug buy in which the defendants instead tried to rob the dealer, who was the vehicle’s driver, while Richardson sat in the passenger seat. 

In addition to murder, both defendants also face charges related to multiple residential burglaries around the Santa Maria Valley. 

Attorneys said the trial, with the prosecution led by Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Savrnoch, is expected to last eight weeks. 

Plans to start the trial in August were foiled by additional time needed to complete additional ballistics reports.

In another homicide case, three remaining defendants — Joseph Brian Morales, Arturo Granados and Bryan Rios — are awaiting trial for the death of Javier Alcantar Limon, 37.

The judge scheduled the trial, expected to last eight weeks, to start April 16. 

Limon's body was found west of Guadalupe in August 2014 in what law enforcement officers called a gang-related killing.

Defense attorneys include Scott and Pedego, along with William Redell. 

Voysey suggested scheduling that trial for April, after the former Hancock College players’ case.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Gresser told the judge Limon's family is eager for the trial to start.

“I don’t think anybody wants to delay this,” Voysey said Monday. “It’s just the physical reality of how many cases we’ve got set that’s delaying it. There’s no other reason,” he said.

A readiness and settlement hearing is planned for March 26, with trial confirmation planned for April 9.

Trial dates set Monday could delay a different homicide trial in another courtroom, which also involves Scott and Pedego as defense attorneys. 

Judge John McGregor previously set Feb. 5 for the start of the trial for two defendants, Victor Aureliano Martinez and Jose Villagomez, charged in connection with the death of Marilyn Pharis in summer 2015.

She died at a local hospital eight days after being brutally attacked in her home. 

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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